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Patient found in freezer, child loses toe: 46 claims of abuse investigated at mental health facility

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Police are investigating a total of 46 claims of patient abuse and neglect at a Georgia psychiatric hospital, one week after Channel 2 Action News first reported the complaints.

Lakeview Behavioral Health is still operating, and no charges have been filed, but Gwinnett County police say they are building a very large case file and looking for more victims. 

"It surprises me that it took this long for this to come to light," whistleblower Ledesha Haynes said.

Haynes worked as the director of human resources at the facility until last February. She said she left because of the constant problems that were swept under the rug. 

"There were years that I would talk about, that I feared coming to work and that a news station or a police station would be at the front door saying we were shut down," Haynes said.

After parent Kerri Hitch reported issues she had with her son at the facility this month, police said complaints flooded in.

"There are more serious issues going on in this facility than what happened to my son," Hitch said. There are patients with unexplained injuries and claims of physical and sexual abuse.

"In a freezer, crying, and someone found him there. But his documentation said he was accounted for, which is not correct. It was covered up," Haynes said.

Haynes also said there was an incident where a child lost a toe.

She said she believes many of Lakeview's workers care, but she insists lack of training or corporate greed put residents' lives in danger. 

"We've had employees that work, and they are sleeping on the clock, and they still work there," Haynes said. The woman said she left Lakeview on good terms and turned down a severance package because she knew this day would come.  "I think from the second day I was there, I was concerned," she said. Haynes has spoken with detectives.

Thomas has tried repeatedly to get comment from Lakeview, leaving phone messages and sending emails. So far, he has not gotten a response. 

The investigation is ongoing.

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