EXCLUSIVE: Complaint alleges mental patient exposed himself - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EXCLUSIVE: Complaint alleges Waipahu mental patient exposed himself to boys

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A neighbor of a Waipahu adult care home said its staff did nothing to stop a mentally ill man from exposing himself to little boys in the neighborhood, a charge the care home denied Friday.

The home licensed for three mentally ill adults is on Apowale Street in Waipahu, just down the hill from Waipahu Elementary in a neighborhood full of kids before and after school.   

Neighbor John Talkington told Hawaii News Now on October 3, about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, a male patient in his 20s repeatedly exposed his genitals and touched himself to three boys aged six to eight as he stood just inside a three-foot chain-link fence trying to coax them over to the home.  

That's when Talkington called 911. 

"The police didn't arrive for like 45 minutes and for a whole half hour, the patient continued to expose himself, and kind of (goaded) the boys.  He didn't care that I was out there," Talkington said. 

Talkington said no staff from the home emerged to stop anything until police arrived.  He said he'd been told by a government official that the patient had been removed from his home on the Big Island after he harmed his mother and taken to the home for stabilization. 

"The Care Hawaii Inc. staff are not adequately supervising their patients.  And they're therefore putting not only the patient, but they're putting my neighbors, who are a lot of elderly and a lot of young children, at risk," Talkington said. 

"We deny his allegations, because we have not been able to confirm what he's claiming," said Maria Kinsler, CEO of Care Hawaii, which runs the Waipahu facility and seven other adult homes in the state. 

But Kinsler admitted her company's investigation did not interview the three boys or their parents about the incident.  Kinsler said the company's probe questioned staff who claimed they were with the man the entire time.   

Talkington pointed out the same patient on other occasions bolted from staff to another neighbor's house two houses down from the group facility.  

"He wasn't just roaming the streets," said Kinsler, who admitted he left the home but said care takers picked him up as soon as neighbors notified them he'd strayed onto their property.  

Kinsler said her staff is taking more precautions with its patients and is considering installing a higher fence with sensors on the gates to alert them any time they are opened. 

Other neighbors are also worried. 

"I don't mind having them here as long as they can control the people and stuff.  Cause there's a lot of kids playing around, and it's the safety for the kids and stuff," said Shad Navarez, 39, who has lived on the street his entire life. 

Navarez said neighbors have had to endure screaming, banging and crashes, sometimes in the middle of the night, from troubled mental patients at the facility. 

"Over here's a very quiet neighborhood.  When you hear screaming like that, everyone can hear it, yeah?" Navarez said. "That's real scary, especially for my grandma, them and a lot of the people over here that are older.  They've been living here all their life." 

Kinsler said, "We don't feel our consumers or our home poses any threat to the neighborhood." 

Talkington filed a complaint with the State Health Department which is being investigated, according to Keith Ridley, chief of the Office of Health Care Assurance.

Ridley said their first priority is safety of the public and working with an operator to correct problems and prevent them from happening again.

Only in the worst-case scenario will the state fine, suspend or revoke the license of a group home, Ridley said. 

City zoning law does not require adult homes like the Waipahu facility with eight or fewer residents to notify neighbors and get a conditional use permit.  So neighbors said they were never told that mentally ill adults who'd been removed from their own homes and brought to the facility for stabilization were living just a few doors down. 

"We actually have tolerated, for years, their operations.  Our neighborhood hasn't said 'Get out of here' until now," Talkington said.