Iowa officials have admitted that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating a home for hundreds of people with severe intellectual disabilities on suspicion that they’ve been conducting “sexual arousal studies” and other experiments that could violate residents’ rights.

The Iowa Department of Human Services confirmed to the Des Moines Register last week that the Glenwood Resource Center, a state-run facility, is under scrutiny.

“The DOJ investigation of Glenwood Resource Center related to ‘human subject experiments’ is focused on ‘optimal hydration’ under the ‘Perfect Care Index,’ and ‘sexual arousal studies,'” Iowa human services spokesman Matt Highland told the Des Moines Register. “While we are still gathering the facts, we will investigate and address every allegation.”

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He said that the department would “share all of the information we are able to” once all the facts were in, the Des Moines Register reported. “The department looks forward to an open dialog, to building trust through transparency and ensuring this never happens again.”

Glenwood is in southwest Iowa about 20 miles from Omaha, Neb., and cares for 250 people with intellectual disabilities, according to the Des Moines Register.

The facility’s superintendent, Jerry Rea, has already been placed on paid administrative leave, the Associated Press reported last Wednesday.

Rea apparently owns the patent on “an apparatus for detecting and monitoring the sexual arousal of an individual,” the Register reported, citing his biography on a former employment website, plus documents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“We’re extremely concerned,” Disability Rights Iowa executive director Jane Hudson told the Register. “This is care and treatment of vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities. And it’s the oversight issue. We’ve never felt that DHS has enough oversight of these facilities.”

The facility had also drawn attention for an unusual number of deaths among those in its care. The DOJ notified Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in late November of the federal investigations into Glenwood and the Woodward Resource Center, the Des Moines Register reported earlier this month.

Justice officials have visited Glenwood at least once, the Register revealed, and told Reynolds that it’s investigating whether the state is involved “in a pattern or practice of violating the federal rights of residents by placing them at serious risk of harm.”

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