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Abuse alleged at Cannon Falls adult care facility

The Maple Lodge facility is located five miles south of Cannon Falls on Highway 52. The 10-unit home, must be cleared of patients by March 1 amid allegations of abuse. Cody Buckalew/RiverTown Newspaper Group

A Cannon Falls-area vulnerable adult care facility will close March 1 amid allegations the administrator emotionally abused a resident.

Goodhue County public health and social services officials began investigating Maple Lodge Administrator Ken Knutson last month after a resident reported alleged abuse to authorities.

"The man said he was being emotionally abused and that he was afraid," said Greg Schoener, Goodhue County Social Services director. "That's something we take very seriously."

Schoener said the investigation did reveal emotional abuse by Knutson.

He would not provide further details other than that the incident was isolated and not physical in nature, and that none of the other 12 Maple Lodge staff members was involved.

"He allowed his frustration to evolve into emotional abuse of a client," Schoener said.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Knutson said he is challenging the allegations but would not elaborate further.

"That's all I can say at this point," said Knutson, former administrator at Red Wing Health Center.

Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers said no criminal investigation has been launched by his department.

Following the investigation, Schoener said officials made plans to relocate the residents, most of whom were from Hennepin County.

Schoener said no Goodhue County residents are currently living in the 10-unit home, which must be cleared of patients by March 1.

Schoener said this is not the first time care issues surfaced at Maple Lodge, a facility located five miles south of Cannon Falls on Highway 52.

He said he sent a team to the facility last fall after receiving calls from concerned staff members there.

While county staff did make some recommendations to improve the facility, Schoener said "the immediate health and safety needs of clients seemed to be appropriate."

Knutson opened Maple Lodge in 2006. The transitional care facility treats adults with traumatic brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases and related diagnoses with potential for rehabilitation.

Schoener called Knutson "very qualified" and said his actions did not appear malicious.

"I think he got himself in a care situation that was maybe over his head. It maybe pushed him beyond his skill level and he got frustrated," Schoener said.

"We were very disappointed," he added. "We had very good reasons to have confidence in his abilities."

Goodhue County Welfare Board members voted last week to terminate the county's business contract with the facility as a result of the investigation. Schoener said the move stops state funding from funneling through county computers to Maple Lodge.

"We were very responsive, we stepped in and we were very assertive," Schoener said. "We were very intolerant of what we witnessed and what our findings were. That trust was broken and the clients are too vulnerable for us to take that risk again."

The county's public health department licenses the center as a board and lodge facility. It is also certified by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide specialized services to disabled clients. State health officials did not return calls Tuesday seeking information on the Lodge's status with the state.