RICHMOND, Va. -- A former registered nurse at the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence, a New Kent County children’s hospital at the center of a state police investigation, is breaking her silence about a child she said was intentionally burned by a staff member.
“It was heartbreaking. I struggled to maintain my composure the entire time," the RN, who asked not to be identified, said as she described what it was like caring for 16-year-old Jackson Haddon in the hours after September 14, 2019.
"No child under any circumstances should experience that sort of abuse," she explained.
As CBS 6 first reported in August, Shannon Haddon said her son was intentionally burned by a Behavior Technician (BT) at The Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence.
However, she said the facility initially told her the teen, who suffers from a traumatic brain injury, was accidentally burned in the shower.
“As far as the showers, I just had to go with what they told me, that the alarm failed in the shower. I just had to trust that this was a freak accident,” said Haddon.
It wasn’t until more than a month after the alleged incident, she said she received a call from Cumberland, and she said they informed her of what really happened.
“One of the Behavior Techs was on camera going in the break room and into the bathroom multiple times heating up water and pouring it on Jackson,” she explained.
"I can confirm that the issue was promptly and thoroughly investigated, reported to authorities, and the employee was terminated,” said Cumberland CEO Garrett Hamilton.
But the RN said the hospital knew immediately that Jackson’s injury was no accident.
“We vehemently deny this new allegation,” said Hamilton.
"The water in the showers does not get that hot. It gets hot, it does not get that that hot. There’s no other way it could have happened, and they knew this,” said the RN. “I was told by the nurse exactly what happened.”
“Can you talk about what they said?” asked CBS 6 Investigative Reporter Laura French.
“That the BT burned him with scalding water intentionally,” she replied.
“However, I was then told by my supervisor I was not to speak on that because it needed to be investigated. Cumberland certainly did not want his family knowing what really happened.”
"That’s their child. They need to know the truth. Again, things happen, you can’t control everyone. It’s absolutely horrendous that this happened to him or anyone however, they have a right to know. This is their child and they have trusted a facility with his life, with his safety,” said the RN.
“Knowing that people knew, that one really hurts because I think I would have, I know I would have tried harder to get him out of there quicker,” said Haddon.
The RN said she felt compelled to reach out to CBS 6 after she saw Haddon’s interview with French in August.
That’s when she decided she would go public with why she resigned from the hospital.
She said it turned a blind eye to child abuse that she reported soon after a CBS 6 investigation uncovered numerous allegations of neglect and abuse against staff members being criminally investigated by the Virginia State Police.
However, caring for Haddon, was the first time she said she was ever made aware of an alleged incident at the facility.
“Before I could even get out of report, I was in tears just hearing about it, and then when I saw the burns, that was very difficult and that's just me as an observer. I can't even imagine how difficult it was for him,” said the RN.
Haddon’s medical records described his second-degree "scald burn" as a "large reddened area" with "several fluid-filled blisters ranging in size" and it’s documented that Jackson was "guarded' with 'teary eyes" and - his "face scale pain was 10 out of 10."
“He was in quite a bit of discomfort,” said the RN. “The face scale is the grimacing especially when that area was touched or someone coming to touch that area and the guardedness,” she explained. “It absolutely broke my heart. I did not maintain my composure the entire time. Sometimes you got to go to the back to the storage unit and just cry and let it out and then pretend that everything is good.”
“It really makes me sad for Jackson. You know he didn’t have his mom to comfort him. I pray that the ones that did care for Jackson did comfort him if he needed it because I couldn’t. But I do want to thank this nurse for her coming out and speaking her truth because even though it’s hard to hear, I deserve to know the truth,” Haddon tearfully said.
“To know that this young man, who was not an aggressive man, who was kind he didn’t deserve this, no one deserves this, but Jackson did not, he certainly did not,” the RN added.
But his mother said what her son does deserve was justice that she called long overdue.
“It’s been over a year now, so I feel kind of in the dark like I’m being swept under the rug,” she said. “Jackson just deserves to know that this woman is behind bars and she pays for what she has done.”
“The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Richmond Field Office continues to actively pursue this significant and complex criminal investigation,” said state police spokesperson Corinne Geller.
“The investigation remains active and ongoing but unfortunately we generally don’t comment on pending investigations,” said Charlotte Gomer with the Office of the Attorney General. “We extend our deepest sympathies for Miss Haddon and what she has been going through.”
The New Kent Department of Social Services ruled Haddon’s case unfounded last December. However, they point out that 'may not mean that abuse or neglect did not occur.'
CBS 6 reached out to DSS and due to confidentiality, they could not comment.
Watch for Problem Solvers Investigations Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Click here for more of our investigations or to submit a tip to the Problem Solvers.
Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News: