Judge With Gavel

Florida Judge Backs Revoking Wildwood Group Home License

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Judge With Gavel (File)

An administrative law judge Friday recommended revoking the license of a Wildwood group home where police found a woman with disabilities tied to a pole in November 2022.

Judge W. David Watkins issued a 33-page ruling that backed a move by the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities to revoke the B-Yond Xpectations II group home license.

The case began when Wildwood police received a call late on Nov. 23, 2022, about someone yelling for help from the group home.

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Officers found a 26-year-old resident of the home, identified by the initials N.B., in a chair in a pole barn-type structure with her arms tied behind a wooden pole, Watkins wrote.

The ruling said N.B. had an intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and autism and had a history of self-abusive and aggressive behavior. Theresa Williams, the owner of the group home, told police that N.B. sometimes needed to be restrained because of behavior such as hitting other residents and fighting, Watkins wrote.

Police were called again to the group home five days later because N.B. was found not breathing. Williams and an officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but N.B. was pronounced dead, Watkins wrote.

The agency then issued an emergency suspension of the group home’s license and began seeking to revoke the license in January 2023.

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The group home filed for an administrative hearing, which was held in January 2024. In his ruling, Watkins supported the agency’s allegations that the group home violated state laws.

“Tying N.B. to a pole under a pole barn behind the group home in chilly weather constituted an unnecessary and inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion which resulted in a serious risk of physical injury to N.B. because of the conditions surrounding her being bound,” he wrote. “The method of seclusion also posed a risk of psychological injury, particularly because N.B. was left in that state for an indeterminate amount of time.”

Under administrative law, Watkins’ ruling is a recommended order that will go to the agency for final action.

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