LAS VEGAS -- One of the two owners of Northwest Academy told kitchen staff to cook with water she knew was contaminated, according to an arrest report by Nye County police.
Patricia Chappuis, booked under the surname Mathis, was arrested Feb. 13 on 43 counts of child endangerment and 2 counts of felony child abuse. Her husband, Marcel Chappuis, also faces 43 counts of child endangerment.
The investigation was initiated on Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff's Office after allegations of child abuse. Several juveniles attending Northwest Academy complained of rashes and other skin issues they believed to be the result of contaminated water.
The report states that arsenic consumption is known to result in skin conditions and an increased risk of cancer.
According to the arrest report, Northwest Academy showed dangerous levels of arsenic in the tap water in two separate tests in 2017. The report says the maximum contaminant level allowed in water is 0.010 mg/L. The tests showed levels of 0.104 mg/L and 0.030 mg/L, respectively.
As a result of the contamination, Northwest Academy was ordered to provide bottled water for drinking, cooking and cleaning until the contaminated water was deemed safe.
Current and former staff and juveniles told officers that they were provided bottled water three times a day, but tap water was still used to cook food and was dishes. They also said the facility would run out of water for up to three days at a time, forcing students and staff to drink tap water or go without water.
One former kitchen staffer said Patricia directed staff to cook with tap water. The report said that empty water bottles were placed in the kitchen and staff was told "anyone who asks if they cook with the bottled water, yes, and show them the empty water bottles as proof."
43 juveniles were identified as being in the care of Northwest Academy, according to the report.