KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two men face felony charges after a disabled man was seen on security footage being dragged across a driveway on his back.
According to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, 31-year-old Jakolby Stigall and 71-year-old Elbert Sharp Jr. were working as caregivers on March 17 at the Sertoma Center when a staff member reported they had abused a vulnerable client and failed to report the abuse.
Both Stigall and Sharp were fired on March 23.
A referral was made to adult protective services which stated the victim had a large red area on his back that appeared to be dry scratches or scrapes. Records show the victim has cerebral palsy, heart failure, scoliosis, and a seizure disorder and requires assistance with daily living activities.
The victim lives in a supportive living home where Sharp and Stigall were seen on video attempting to remove the victim from the center’s transport van. One of the men was later seen on video grabbing the victim by his feet and dragging him across the driveway on his back.
A KCSO investigation found that neither suspect had reported the incident in a possible attempt to cover it up.
Stigall faces one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult. Sharp faces one count of failure to report elder abuse or vulnerable adult abuse. A bond hearing was held on July 27 with an arraignment set for August 3.
Sertoma released the following statement:
The Sertoma Center focuses its time and resources on cultivating community inclusion with purpose, empowerment and promise for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our team provides opportunities for persons served with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential through residential experiences, community interactions, employment, and job skills training. Our team not only helps our persons served; we also truly care for them.Sertoma Chief Executive Officer Lee Freeman
In March of this year, one of our caregivers notified Sertoma of possible injuries to a person served. Sertoma immediately initiated an internal investigation, seeking to determine whether any form of inappropriate contact had occurred. Upon determining one of our employees had possibly harmed a person served, and that another of our employees had failed to report the same, Sertoma took swift action to: (1) terminate both employees on March 23, 2022 as the actions were not in accordance with Sertoma’s mission and values; and (2) report this situation to both state and local authorities for further action.
Sertoma also reported this situation to our person served’s closest family member, ensuring she remained fully aware of what happened and of all the steps Sertoma had taken to ensure her relative was safe.
While Sertoma cannot comment further on any ongoing criminal matter, we will confirm that we maintain safety as our top priority. And, when this situation was first reported to Sertoma in March, immediate steps were taken to investigate, report, and terminate.
We trust the legal system will ensure other appropriate action is taken here, but Sertoma needs the Knoxville community and all of our supported families to know that our team simply has no tolerance for any possible abuse related to our persons served.