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State sued over records about allegations at boys home

September 18, 2018

The Paul Martin Home for Boys in Detroit is shown in a Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 photo. A lawsuit accuses state officials of withholding documents about abuse allegations at the home. Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, known as MPAS, filed a lawsuit Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, against the Department of Health and Human Services. The independent group is empowered under state and federal (AP Photo/Ed White)

DETROIT (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is withholding key documents about abuse allegations at a Detroit home for boys, according to a lawsuit from a group that protects the rights of the developmentally disabled.

Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, known as MPAS, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Department of Health and Human Services. The independent group is empowered under state and federal law to investigate abuse and neglect claims, and it wants to know more about the Paul Martin Home for Boys.

The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after state auditors separately released a searing report about the broader failings of Michigan’s child protection agency. The governor responded by ordering a review.

The Martin home contracts with the state to temporarily take care of boys who have been removed from their families. More than a dozen living there last spring were taking medication for mental health, according to the lawsuit.

MPAS said it visited the home on July 25 and subsequently heard “multiple allegations” of abuse from parents and state employees. On Sept. 5, the state said records sought by MPAS would not be produced.

Health and Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton cited the lawsuit and declined to explain why records were withheld.

“If the state isn’t going to turn them over, we’ll litigate,” said Mark Cody, MPAS legal director. “If there is an impediment to our work, kids suffer.”

Martin Home director Georgene Thornton said MPAS is “just looking for something.”

“We run a safe place,” Thornton insisted Tuesday.

MPAS attorney Andrea Rizor said the state has failed to post more than a dozen Martin home investigation reports online. The last one, dated August 2017, found that some staff don’t always immediately break up fights among boys.

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