Family desperate for help with ‘sociopathic’ teen

Family faces felony abandonment but insurance won't cover residential care

Lori Shelby and husband Dennis McCarthy are at a loss with what to do with their violent, 13-year-old son. (KOIN 6)

CASTLE ROCK, Wash. (KOIN 6) — A family who says their son is a risk to society says they have not been able to get the long-term residential treatment he desperately needs.

The 13-year-old, who suffers from autism spectrum disorders and has been diagnosed with sociopathic tendencies and attachment disorders by a psychiatrist, was released from juvenile detention after multiple stays.

Mother Lori Shelby said she feared for her safety when she picked him up, but had been threatened with a felony charge for child abandonment if she did not do so. Now, she’s searching for the services necessary to treat him, but has faced roadblock after roadblock.

“He’s assaulted other kids. On top of assaulting other kids, he’s assaulted girls,” said Shelby.

She said these psychiatric disorders manifest themselves in sexual assaults and violence at school and outbursts at home.

detention center

“He has no remorse over anything, if he hurts the dog or hurts the chickens or another human being he doesn’t care,” said Shelby.

The boy’s step dad, Dennis McCarthy, said “he constantly steals stuff, scissors, knives, tools, hammers.” In addition, the boy’s obsession with guns and weapons is so vast his iPod was confiscated by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Department for having research on bombs.

“We need immediate help,” said Shelby.

After countless rounds of outpatient therapy, psychiatrists agree Shelby’s son needs long-term residential treatment, however, her insurance does not cover residential services. The Cowlitz County At Risk Youth contempt program is only permitted to house youth for seven days. A court-ordered mental health professional found the teen met the criteria to be involuntarily committed, after he acknowledged he needed and wanted help.

“She said at that point, there’s nothing she can do, because now, he’s volunteering to go. So they can’t force him into treatment,” said Shelby.

Meanwhile, the family has reached out to the state’s Regional Support Network, who they say has not been supportive either. Shelby said she fears organizations will continue to “pass the buck.”

“Somewhere out there in this system, this government system, there has to be somebody who knows who we’re supposed to talk to,” said McCarthy.

A judge has subpoenaed a staffer with the Regional Support Network to appear in Juvenile court next Wednesday.

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