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Local News

August 15, 2013

Group home to pay fine in worker's slaying

Mentally ill resident accused of stabbing woman in 2011

PEABODY — The agency that operated a Revere group home where a Peabody social worker was allegedly kidnapped and killed by a mentally ill resident has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine and take steps to improve the safety of its employees, federal officials announced this week.

Stephanie Moulton, 25, of Peabody worked at North Suffolk Mental Health Association’s group home in 2011 when she was left alone with Deshawn Chappell, a then 27-year-old man with schizophrenia and a history of violent behavior. Family members said later that he had stopped taking his medications.

Chappell is charged with stabbing Moulton, then driving her in her own car to Lynn, where he left her body in a parking lot near a Lynn church. He was found later in Boston.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited North Suffolk in 2011 for failing to provide adequate safeguards against workplace violence.

Under the terms of a settlement reached between North Suffolk and OSHA, the agency has agreed to implement a violence-prevention program that includes “workplace controls and prevention strategies; hazard/threat/security assessments; a workplace violence policy statement outlining and emphasizing a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence; incident reporting and investigation” and periodic reviews, according to a press release announcing the settlement.

North Suffolk also must take other measures, including creating a reporting system for threats; a process of accounting for workers’ whereabouts; a “buddy system” for second- and third-shift workers and a process for requesting backup. The agency will be required to evaluate the behavioral history of residents; create a system, such as log books, to identify residents who might harm workers; and provide workers with a way of summoning help, such as alarms, two-way radios or cellphones.

North Suffolk has agreed to implement the changes at all of the group homes it operates.

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