The Christian proprietors of an assisted-living facility in Los Angeles stand accused of, among other things, retaliating against the disabled they served if their clients didn’t attend religious services.
Kang Won Lee and Jung Hwan Lee, husband and wife, own the two houses in Los Angeles’ historic Adams district that became the subject of a lawsuit filed by the office of L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer the other day. The Lees ran the two homes, Agape Mission House and Agape Home Church, as unlicensed facilities for the physically and mentally disabled, the city alleges. The couple had the properties licensed as charities.
Feuer says the Lees abused their physically and mentally disabled residents
… by forcing them to live in “deplorable, overcrowded and substandard living conditions,” [and by] taking the residents’ government benefits.
The two homes were allegedly thick with flies — no surprise to Assistant City Attorney Jose Egurbide, who explains there was just “one toilet and one shower for over 50 individuals and filth, dirt, overcrowding, severe overcrowding.” One bedroom was observed to have a beehive in it, and the place is thought to be infested with bedbugs.
Residents were punished for failing to attend religious services twice a day, [regardless of] their individual beliefs, court documents said.
The punishments allegedly included being made to stand by a tree for up to four hours, [transcribe or] translate Bible verses for an entire day, and sleep outside at night [the temperatures in L.A. can dip into the 4os in the winter].
“He calls himself pastor and does force all the residents to attend religious services,” said Assistant City Atty. Jose Egurbide.
The City has begun moving some of the residents to other facilities, while renovations and a cleanup are underway to try to keep the place open for business.
Not all of the residents support the suit against the Lees.
Henry Beasley, 56, said the strong Christian emphasis helped deliver him from years of substance abuse. Before moving into Agape 2 1/2 years ago, he was homeless. But the “pastor’s generosity and loving, kind heart” helped him turn his life around, he said. …
But J.J. Thurman, 38, said Pastor Lee would sometimes yell at residents and ignore patients who needed medical attention. But he said he never saw any physical abuse.
The men said they gave Lee and his wife their monthly government relief funds of $221 and food stamp allowances of about $200. They considered it the cost to live at Agape.
… the owners have violated California’s unfair competition laws, false advertising law, health and safety codes, and the Community Care Facilities Act.