Man on Trial for Severe Nursing Home Abuse in Upscale Nursing Facility

The Los Angeles Times tells a story of one woman as she made her rounds at an upscale retirement home one morning, the nursing home employee said she walked into a room and caught a fellow caregiver in the act of abusing an elderly man suffering from dementia. The worker was hurtling from atop a dresser toward the bed, landing both knees onto the man's belly.

This horrible tale and other accounts of abuse are unfolding this week in the trial of a low-level employee accused of severely mistreating residents, some of whom would have been unable to alert anyone to the alleged abuse because of severe dementia. The 21 year old nursing home employee is charged with seven counts of elder abuse and one count of torture. If convicted, he faces a possible life sentence.

In addition to the above account of abuse, prosecutors say, he also jumped on a woman's chest and body-slammed her into a bed when she struggled. The 78-year-old woman was mute because of a brain condition. He also allegedly took the arm of one wheelchair-bound resident and used it to hit another resident who had dementia, encouraging them to fight.

For adults considering assisted care homes for their parents, the alleged abuses are particularly distressing because they're said to have occurred at a facility for the elderly where people pay around $70,000 a year to house and care for their loved ones. The state attorney general's office has called elder abuse in nursing homes a serious problem.

The man, just 19 at the time of the alleged abuse, came under suspicion after a resident at the home died in 2007, presumably of natural causes. The day after saying goodbye to her husband of almost 50 years at his funeral, the man's widow got a call from a stranger. The voice on the other end was that of another nursing home employee's mother, and she told the grieving woman that her husband had been beaten to death.

Days later, with her permission, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies exhumed the former engineer's body. 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.

Detectives launched a year long investigation into the accused abuser and discovered other alleged victims. He was arrested Oct. 2, 2008, and has remained in custody. At trial this week, prosecution witnesses have detailed some of the suspected abuse. 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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