LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The operators of two unlicensed assisted living facilities have been ordered to relocate physically and mentally disabled residents from “deplorable and sub-standard living conditions,” the City Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
According to a complaint (PDF) filed by City Attorney Mike Feuer, the operators of Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church, located along the 2200 block of South Hobart Boulevard in Los Angeles’ historic Adams District, violated residents’ personal rights by subjecting them to “deplorable, overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.”
Some abuse charges alleged in the complaint include punishments for failure to attend religious services twice a day — without any regard for residents’ individual religious beliefs — which included being forced to stand by a tree for up to four hours, being made to translate Bible verses for an entire day, being locked in the facility for several days, being made to sleep outside at night, or even being discharged.
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports prosecutors say as many as 30 residents reported being locked in at night and not allowed access to the kitchen and pantry, while others claimed the defendants collected their county or federal benefits cards as rent at the beginning of each month and denied residents access to their own spending money.
In response to the complaint, a court-appointed receiver will begin to work with state, county and local agencies to relocate individuals requiring assisted care to licensed facilities, according to Feuer. The operators have been ordered off the properties.
Under California law, the operators of both Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church, which both use the Greek word for “love” in their namesakes, could face a penalty of between $2,500 and $7,500 for each act that threatens the health and safety of residents, prosecutors said.
While criminal charges can only be filed against individuals, the civil complaint allows prosecutors to obtain injunctive relief, according to City Attorney’s Office spokesperson Rob Wilcox.
“These residents are among the most vulnerable in our society and they were forced to live a daily nightmare,” Feuer said. “We are bringing that nightmare to a close.”
The facilities are a block away from the First African Methodist Episcopal Church and close to public and private elementary schools, pre-schools and after-school programs, according to Feuer.
A staffer at one of the facilities refused a request for comment from Peschiutta.