State attorney general urged to investigate Sonoma Developmental Center abuse cases

Advocates for the disabled on Thursday urged the state Department of Justice to take over the investigation and prosecution of a former Sonoma Developmental Center employee who is alleged to have used a stun gun on 11 patients.

In a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris, Greg deGiere, a spokesman for The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy, accused local authorities of failing to conduct a thorough investigation into claims that caregiver Archie Millora, 38, used the weapon on patients last fall.

DeGiere said the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and the institution's own police force, the Office of Protective Services, were slow to respond, while prosecutors allowed Millora to plead to a misdemeanor weapons charge carrying a penalty "that would make a slap on the wrist look harsh."

Afterward, the Sheriff's Office and Office of Protective Services pointed fingers at each other, he said. And the District Attorney's Office promised to revisit the case only after it was reported by the media, he said.

"The bottom line is, this is a case of serial torture and no one has been arrested on these charges," DeGiere said in a phone interview Thursday. "We're asking the attorney general to take over."

Sheriff Steve Freitas said the Office of Protective Services informed his detectives they had a suspect but declined any help from the Sheriff's Office.

"They never asked us for any investigative help. If they did we would have given it to them," Freitas said. "We generally don't go in and force our investigative unit on other law enforcement agencies."

Spencer Brady, chief deputy district attorney, said only that his office was "continuing to review the case both from a legal and factual standpoint."

"The door here is open to additional information and further review," Brady said.

The institution received the allegations about Millora on Sept. 26 from an anonymous tipster, according to a report by California Watch, part of the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting.

© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View