“The finding was determined to be resolved without a finding.”
That’s the final sentence anyone at the Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services wrote regarding Mary Jane Duffy.
The sentence closed out an Aug. 14, 2009 report filed by one of OIG’s investigators detailing the latest abuse Mary Jane Duffy suffered, purportedly at the hands of her husband.
The report was filed two weeks after Duffy had been placed at the British Home nursing facility and two weeks before an administrator at the British Home helped Duffy file for an order of protection against her husband.
What is clear to anyone who reads the OIG’s Aug. 14 report – and the three that preceded it – is that a helpless, increasingly disabled Mary Jane Duffy was being systematically and continually abused. And yet that abuse was allowed to continue even after she pleaded with people to keep her away from her husband and won an order of protection that kept him away from her and her income.
To say that the Mary Jane Duffy case was a complete failure is an understatement. State, hospital, nursing home and police officials all had details about the abuse – the unexplained cuts and bruises, the handcuffs, the locked doors and disconnected phones. They had seen with their own eyes the verbal abuse heaped on Mary Jane Duffy.
Yet, she ended up back in the viper’s den every time.
What is unconscionable, however, is that for the last two years of her life, Mary Jane Duffy was off the radar screen of the OIG, which had documented her deteriorating condition and the abuse she suffered since at least 2003.
They knew about her husband’s alleged use of her Social Security and pension checks to deprive his wife of care and fund his own lifestyle. Simply put, the OIG failed to make sure Mary Jane Duffy was safe.
And now it is past time for the OIG to find out why that happened and put in place procedures to assure that people like Mary Jane Duffy can live out their lives in dignity, away from those so heartless that they would let her shrivel and die on a cot in a spare bedroom.
If Joseph Duffy is found guilty of heaping that abuse on his wife, he should be severely punished for his actions. But the state can’t let the OIG off the hook on this either.
They didn’t commit the abuse, but they allowed it to continue.
They knew about Mary Jane Duffy. They documented the abuse over a period of six years. And they resolved to walk away in 2009 – the finding was determined to be resolved without a finding.
That is outrageous.