Criminal charges dropped against foster-care provider

EAGLE POINT — Criminal charges have been dropped and the case has been dismissed against an adult foster-care provider accused of striking a mentally disabled man last September.

Harry Joseph Schneider, 55, originally was charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment and fourth-degree assault. His case was dismissed Tuesday because the alleged victim has refused to testify, said Eric Dames, a Jackson County district attorney.

The victim now lives in another state and the family did not want to subject him to a court trial, Dames said.

"We didn't have a victim to testify at trial," Dames said.

Health officials shut down the adult foster-care home on Ball Road within days after allegations surfaced that a caregiver had struck a mentally disabled man, giving him a black eye.

Schneider, 55, could not be reached Wednesday. Court records show he pleaded not guilty to the charges. Schneider previously has stated the mentally disabled man received a black eye when he fell during a "drop" seizure, which causes sudden loss of muscle strength.

Kelly Schneider also has denied the allegations against her husband.

She said the former resident had a history of hurting himself during seizures. Her husband tried to protect the man during one of his seizures. The trouble started when the man later told his sister that Harry Schneider had hit him. She said the resident, whom she described as in his 30s with the mental capacity of a 6-year-old, previously had told the doctor he had fallen and hit his head.

Mary Gear, administrator for the Office of Licensing and Quality of Care with the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, said the Schneiders' foster home at 2433 Ball Road remains closed, its license suspended and its residents relocated. The September closure of the Ball Road facility was necessary because of concerns about the health and safety of the five residents, who suffer from dementia and other disorders, she said.

Although none of the allegations were substantiated against Schneider, medical and forensic experts continue to evaluate the situation during a process that could take months before it is concluded, Gear said.

Meanwhile, Harry Schneider has requested a hearing to have the foster-home closure reviewed. Schneider will have the opportunity to "provide additional evidence we may not have had at the time we made the decision," she said.

"We just got the request yesterday," said Gear, adding no date has yet been set for the hearing.

Harry Schneider said in a previous Mail Tribune story that state officials took extreme action against him that will hurt not only the residents but him and his wife. He said he is not sure why the resident changed his story, but said it could have something to do with his mental condition.

Another foster home at 10740 Agate Road, which is run by Kelly Schneider, can continue to operate as long as Harry Schneider doesn't enter the premises, said Gear.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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