Caregiver at Retirement Home is Convicted of Elder Abuse and Torture

A former employee of an upscale retirement home accused of physically assaulting four vulnerable residents was convicted Thursday of torture and elder abuse. Jurors deliberated about five hours before finding the man guilty of all eight counts against him. As the verdict was read, the 21-year-old stared straight ahead without showing any emotion.

The young man, who had a bruise on his right eye that he said was the result of being attacked by half a dozen inmates in jail over the weekend, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced in May. According to witnesses he often laughed as he viciously attacked residents. Several of his victims were too dementia-ridden to call for help, prosecutors alleged.

Suspicion about the man arose when the wife of a resident received an anonymous phone call the day after the funeral of her husband,  alerting her that he had been abused and that his death may not have been from natural causes, as the family had believed.

County sheriff's deputies exhumed the former engineer's body days later. Trauma was found, with signs of multiple broken bones at various stages of healing. An autopsy showed blunt force trauma as a contributing factor in his death.

More than two dozen breaks were found around the man's ribs. A radiologist at the trial compared the injuries to those of a person hit by a train. The abuse was particularly shocking because of where it occurred at what is considered an elite retirement home, where relatives pay upward of $70,000 a year to house their loved ones.

But the prosecutor said the home was vulnerable to abuse. The caregivers there, she said, generally take the floor with little more than a high school education and just a few days of training. Cameras that could have deterred abuse were installed in the halls but not in residents' rooms, where caregivers bathed and changed residents. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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