Justice Dept probing Iowa health center for alleged 'sexual arousal studies' on disabled patients

Justice Dept probing Iowa health center for alleged 'sexual arousal studies' on disabled patients
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether an Iowa state health institution performed "sexual arousal studies" on disabled patients. 

The institution, Glenwood Resource Center, is located 20 miles from Omaha in southwest Iowa and provides care to approximately 250 people with intellectual disabilities. According to a state website, many of the residents cannot speak, walk or feed themselves.

"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, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), told the Des Moines Register in a statement.

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"While we are still gathering the facts, we will investigate and address every allegation," he added.

The federal agency reportedly alerted Iowa officials that it was investigating the center in November, citing an allegation of "harmful and uncontrolled human subject experiments." 

Officials told the newspaper that Jerry Rea, Glenwood's superintendent, had been placed on administrative leave Monday.

State DHS Director Kelly Garcia told the Register that it was "due to the seriousness of the allegations.”

Two decades ago, Rea patented a device "for detecting and monitoring the sexual arousal of an individual," according to a bio on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website.

The DOJ visited the facility Friday and will make another visit in six weeks, the paper reports.

Rea didn't respond to the Register's request for comment.