Virginia’s mental health inspector resigns over Deed’s report

Posted at 11:01 PM, Mar 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-05 00:18:27-05

The man helping Virginia’s top investigator improve the state’s mental health system has resigned, and said his bosses altered his findings.

Douglas Bevelacqua oversaw investigations done by the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) related to mental health services as the Director of the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Division.

He abruptly resigned on March 1 in a letter sent to Governor Terry McAuliffe.

In his resignation letter, Bevelacqua said leadership at the OSIG said his division reports were “too emotional,” “incendiary,” and “editorialized,” so they repeatedly changed the content and form of the work.

One of Bevelacqua’s reports involved the probe into the suicide of Senator Creigh Deeds’ son just hours after a mental health evaluation.

It has yet to be released, and Bevelacqua said it should have been issued weeks ago.

He also said important conclusions were removed from the report, including a statement made by Deeds himself that the “system failed that day.”

After learning about Bevelacqua’s resignation, Deeds told the Virginian-Pilot that “It would be a grave disappointment to me if the investigation were sanitized."

One Chesterfield mother with a mentally ill child is concerned about the state’s efforts to improve mental health services, especially given Bevelacqua’s reasons for resigning she said.

Peggy Sinclair-Morris said her family’s done everything it could to get their daughter Rheanna help, but it’s been more challenging than it should be.

“It's not a one stop shop, there's not a book you can go to that says first you call this person, then you call this person,” Sinclair-Morris said.

Sinclair-Morris told CBS6 that dealing with mental illness is inherently emotional.

“Mental health is emotional for is what it is...that`s the reality of it…we need to talk about those aspects to help erase the stigma and change the system,” she said.

We contacted Bevelacqua’s boss, State Inspector General Mike Morehart, for his reaction to the resignation, but he declined our request for an interview and said he cannot talk about personnel matters.