DOJ investigating ‘sexual arousal studies’ performed at Iowa facility for people with disabilities

Iowa care home where staff allegedly ran ‘experiments’ on disabled patients to test them for ‘optimal hydration and sexual arousal’ is under DOJ investigation

  • Federal investigators are looking into experiments allegedly performed on residents who have disabilities at the Glenwood Resource Center in Iowa
  • It is believed that ‘sexual arousal’ and ‘optimal hydration’ studies were carried out on residents
  • From June 2018 to April 2019, 14 residents died, which is twice the home’s expected death rate
  • The superintendent, who owns a patent for ‘an apparatus…for detecting the sexual arousal of an individual’ has been placed on administrative lave

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating accusations that experiments were carried out on people with severe intellectual disabilities at a state-run home in Iowa.

Federal investigators believe that ‘sexual arousal’ and ‘optimal hydration’ studies may have been carried out on some of the 250 residents of the Glenwood Resource Center – perhaps with fatal results. 

Between June 2018 and April 2019, 14 severely disabled residents died – twice the usual rate, according to the Des Moines Register. 

Additionally, state officials say three more residents have died within the last eight weeks – although it’s not clear if those deaths are linked to the misconduct the DOJ is investigating.

Federal investigators are looking into whether alleged ‘sexual arousal’ studies were being performed on residents with severe intellectual disabilities at the Glenwood Resource Center (file image) in Iowa

‘The DOJ investigation of Glenwood Resource Center related to “human subject experiments” is focused on “optimal hydration” under the “Perfect Care Index,” and “sexual arousal studies,”‘ Matt Highland, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, told the Register. 

‘While we are still gathering the facts, we will investigate and address every allegation.’

The Perfect Care Index is a tool used to determine if medical care and treatment is working for a patient. 

It is used in some healthcare setting and, while it is not industry standard, it is not reported as being inherently problematic.

The details of the alleged experimental studies are unclear as is whether or not the residents would or could have consented to taking part.

According to the state’s website, many of the facility’s residents are unable to walk, talk or feed themselves.

It’s also unclear what led the DOJ to investigate that the alleged experiments were being performed on the residents. 

However, Eric Dreiband, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, sent Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, a letter about Glenwood last month, according to the Register.

In the letter, Dreiband said officials were looking into whether the rights of the residents were being violated ‘by providing them inadequate medical care, allowing unnecessary injuries to occur and subjecting them to harmful and uncontrolled human subject experiments.’ 

Investigators also expressed concern over Glenwood Resource Center’s superintendent, Jerry Rea, who was placed on paid administrative leave last week, according to the Register. 

According to documents from the US Patent and Trademark Office, Rea patented ‘an apparatus…for detecting and monitoring the sexual arousal of an individual’ in 1996.

Before working at Glenwood, he worked at a similar facility in Parsons, Kansas.

The Register reported that, at the time, a bio page listed one of his research interests as ‘assessment and treatment of deviant sexual behavior in persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities.’ 

This is not the only time the Glenwood Resource Center has come under scrutiny. In 2018, five former employees were convicted for mistreating residents, reported KETV.