Virginia Inspector General for Behavioral Health Resigns Over Deeds Report

Virginia’s director of the inspector general for behavioral health and developmental services resigned Saturday citing interference with the final report on the November death of state Sen. Creigh Deeds’ son, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports.

In a letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Doug Bevelacqua wrote that some findings were removed from his report on the incident “because they were considered speculative or too emotional.” That includes the conclusion that the events of Nov. 18, when 24-year-old Austin “Gus” Deeds was released from emergency custody because Virginia law does not allow people to be held against their will longer than six hours under such an order, may have played out differently had the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services taken “meaningful action” on recommendations from the OIG’s 2012 report.

“This conclusion was deemed too speculative,” Bevelacqua wrote. “It was removed by individuals with a limited understanding of the Commonwealth’s public sector behavioral health system who had no involvement in the actual Critical Incident investigation.”

His report also would have included Sen. Deeds’ statement that “the system failed that day.”

The revisions by leadership diminished the value of the report, Bevelacqua wrote.

Gus Deeds attacked his father with a knife then shot and killed himself at their home in Bath County Nov. 19, the day after he was released because a psychiatric treatment bed could not be found for him before the emergency custody order expired.

The inspector general investigation was one of several state responses that grew out of the attack on Sen. Deeds, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009. The attack has also sparked legislation intended to address issues raised by the younger Deeds' inability to get treatment.

McAuliffe, who was traveling in southwest Virginia, said Tuesday he was not aware of the resignation. His office issued a statement saying he would review it.

“The governor is committed to reforming our mental health system so that it works to keep all Virginians healthy and safe,” a spokesman wrote in an email, the Associated Press reported.

Deeds, in Richmond for the General Assembly session, said he is disappointed that Bevelaqua is leaving.

“Mr. Bevelacqua was fair with me, was honest and compassionate,” he told reporters. “It would be very disappointing if it turns out the report is sanitized somehow.”

Inspector General Michael F.A. Morehart did not immediately respond to Associated Press email and phone requests for comment.

Bevelacqua does not specifically identify Morehart in the letter, instead referring to “leadership” at the Inspector General's Office.

Bevelacqua said he informed Deeds of his resignation on Friday.

“I regret this resignation more than I can put into words, but I feel that I can no longer be an authentic, independent voice of accountability for the citizens of Virginia on matters of behavioral health and developmental services, and that I must move on,” Bevelacqua wrote.

Besides Bevelacqua's report, the Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response has been established to look into the Deeds' attack.


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