Hospital must return papers to patient in sex predator unit

? A district court judge has taken Larned State Hospital to task for how it has treated a patient in its sexual predator unit who has complained about conditions there.

The patient, Mark Brull, contends he is being harassed by hospital staff. The state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which operates the hospital and its sexual predator unit, denies the allegation.

Sex offenders who have finished their prison sentences can be committed to the Larned unit indefinitely for treatment through a jury trial. Brull has lived there eight years, having spent three years in prison for two sex crimes involving children.

Brull sued the SRS in Shawnee County in December 2001, alleging the hospital violated laws regulating treatment of confined mental patients, which it denies. His case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

Last month, Shawnee County District Judge Frank Yeomans ordered SRS to return documents that hospital staff had seized from Brull’s room during an inspection. Brull had contacted his lawyer during the search and got it halted, but his papers were boxed up and sent to an SRS attorney in Topeka.

“They’re constantly harassing me each and every day,” Brull told The Wichita Eagle, referring to hospital staff.

SRS spokeswoman Michelle Ponce said the hospital staff hasn’t targeted Brull or any other patient.

“We do not punish them,” she said. She said the unit’s purpose is to keep dangerous mental patients off the streets and try to cure them.

It was the second time Yeomans had intervened after Brull complained about his treatment by hospital staff.

Last year, the judge concluded that hospital officials had improperly restricted Brull’s privileges to discourage him from filing complaints.

Yeomans ordered the privileges restored, and Brull was moved out of the program’s highest-security wing. But in a recent court filing, Brull said he’s been disciplined since then.

But Ponce said Brull’s complaints about Larned had nothing to do with the recent actions taken by unit staff.

“I do not believe he is being retaliated against for any complaint he has issued,” she said.