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Sundance hospital indicted on 11 more counts for allegedly holding patients illegally

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 12/14/2018

Dec. 14--A grand jury has indicted Sundance Behavorial Healthcare System on 11 additional counts of violating the Texas Mental Health Code for allegedly holding patients involuntarily and illegally at its Arlington hospital.

The new counts involve seven new people, according to a news release Friday by the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office.

Sundance, also known as SAS Healthcare Inc., was indicted last month on nine criminal counts of violating the Texas Mental Health Code in connection with four patients at its Arlington facility.

The corporation is accused of refusing to allow voluntary patients to leave the facility and detaining others longer than the statutory maximum of 48 hours without obtaining a required court order of protective custody.

If convicted, punishment carries up to a $100,000 fine for each day the offenses were alleged to have been committed.

Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for children and adults. It specializes in the treatment of mental health, chemical dependency, and detoxification, according to its website.

Its locations include Sundance Hospital at 7000 U.S. 287 Frontage Road in Arlington, Sundance Center of Fort Worth at 2707 Airport Freeway, and Sundance Hospital Dallas at 2696 W. Walnut St. in Garland.

The law firm of Varghese Summersett, which is representing Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System, said in a statement released Friday afternoon that "our position on these charges remains unchanged."

"This is an unprecedented overreach that has ramifications for every healthcare provider in Texas and subjects our community to significant public safety risks. Professionals who serve the mentally ill make decisions based on the best interests of the patient and the community. The Mental Health Code recognizes how difficult these decisions can be and prohibits prosecution against anyone acting in good faith."

The law firm went on to say that the district attorney's office is "no stranger to the issues surrounding detention of the mentally ill" and pointed to the recent fatal beating of accused child molester Clinton Don Simpson inside the Tarrant County Jail.

A mentally ill inmate, 42-year-old David Faustino Flores, stands accused of Simpson's murder. In a jailhouse interview, Flores said his "God and his mother" told him to kill Simpson.

"One needs to look no further than the recent death of an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail to understand the dangers the mentally ill can pose and why, at times, restraining their liberty is justified to protect both themselves and the community at large," the statement reads.

Other former patients have reached out to the Star-Telegram, alleging they too were held against their will.

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