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May 9th, 2014
08:28 PM ET

Ex-patients, families say decades of abuse, fraud at Colorado facility ignored

Denver (CNN) - How did an unlicensed professional, who led people to believe he was a medical doctor, run a facility for adolescents with mental illness and drug abuse problems for decades, despite complaint after complaint to state regulators alleging abuse?

That's the question that haunts some of the alleged victims of an inpatient treatment center that operated in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, for about 30 years.

A CNN investigation uncovered at least 15 civil suits and some two dozen complaints to state regulators against Adolescent and Family Institute of Colorado, also known as AFIC. The allegations include verbal and sexual abuse, unauthorized discontinuance of psychotropic medication and fraud.

The man in charge, AFIC's president and founder, Alexander Panio Jr., was not a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist in the state of Colorado, yet he was allegedly treating patients, and participating in and enabling the abuse at his facility.

"It did the most incredible damage to our family," said Rick Palmer, who's filed a civil suit against AFIC, Panio and other staff members.

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April 1st, 2014
08:29 PM ET

Washington landslide death toll rises

Oso, Washington (CNN) - Among the mounds of mud and ripped-down trees, you see an occasional appliance, a tire here and there, the twisted cables that used to be part of the telephone system. What you don't see are homes.

They are gone. And it is difficult to even figure out where they once stood and what became of them.

The sheer force of a landslide on March 22 pulverized this neighborhood in rural Washington, leaving behind the debris where 27 bodies have been recovered and where crews painstakingly search for at least 20 people who are listed as missing.

On that awful Saturday, a rain-saturated hillside along the north fork of the Stillaguamish River gave way, sending a square-mile rush of wet earth and rock into the outskirts of the town of Oso in Washington's North Cascade Mountains.

Since then, rescuers have trudged through the muck - 70 feet thick in some places - looking for bodies, though some cling to hope someone might be found alive even 10 days later.

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Filed under: News • Washington Landslide