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There’s a special horror we feel when we see people being victimized who can barely defend themselves. Most often, it’s upon hearing stories of child abuse by the adults who should be doing their best to protect them. But it’s not just the youngest among us who fall victim to opportunistic predators. Abuse of the elderly or infirm commands far less attention in the 24-hour news cycle, but it happens with alarming frequency.
Those in long-term care facilities are sometimes ignored by family and at the mercy of staff that are either overworked or indifferent to their struggles. In this environment abuse can go unchecked until it is far too late. These are some of the worst cases of nursing home and elderly abuse in recent memory.
1. St. Rita's Nursing Home
When Hurricane Katrina hit St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, in August 2005, a mandatory evacuation order was issued. Other area nursing homes moved their patients, but the owners of St. Rita's chose not to, fearful that it would put their residents at risk and confident they were safe on high ground, according to ABC News. When the levees broke, however, floodwaters came rushing in, drowning 35 residents, many still in their hospital beds or wheelchairs. Owners Sal and Mabel Mangano were eventually tried on 35 counts of negligent homicide and 24 counts of cruelty to the elderly or infirm but were acquitted on all counts in 2007, according to CBS News.
2. Luis Gomez
A native of Guatemala, Gomez got a nursing degree after moving to Waynesville, North Carolina, in the late 1990s. Over the next 20 years, he would be accused of sexually abusing six women in three different area facilities, according to CNN. His victims ranged in age from their 50s to 80s, with most suffering from long-term debilitating conditions. In 2017, Gomez was found guilty on two counts of forcible rape, one count of forcible sex offense and three counts of sexual activity by a custodian, according to local newspaper The Mountaineer. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison, according to FOX8 in North Carolina.
3. Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home
In late 2008, six teenagers who worked at the Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Albert Lea, Minnesota, were arrested for abusing its residents. Most of the victims suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and, according to the Associated Press, the criminal complaint said the teens would spit in residents’ mouths, spray them with water and poke and grope their genitals. While the cases of those under 18 were settled in juvenile court, Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson were charged as adults and sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to three counts each of disorderly conduct by a caregiver. Both were released after 42 days, according to the Albert Lea Tribune newspaper.
4. George Kpingbah
In 2014, a fellow nurse walked in on 76-year-old George Sumo Kpingbah having sex with an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s patient at Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis, MN. According to CNN, it wasn’t the first time sexual abuse complaints had been filed against Kpingbah, who had previously been suspended by the facility. In 2015, he was sentenced to eight years in prison and agreed to pay $15 million dollars to the estate of the rape survivor if he is ever convicted again of criminal sexual conduct, according to Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.
5. Hacienda HealthCare Facility
On Dec. 29, 2018, a 29-year-old-woman gave birth to a baby boy at Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The woman had been in a vegetative state since nearly drowning at the age of 3, and staff was not even aware she was pregnant, according to Arizona’s KPHO-TV. Weeks later, police arrested one of her caregivers, Nathan Sutherland, 36, after a DNA test matched him to the child and charged him with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse, according to Fox News. He has pleaded not guilty, and he is currently being held in a Maricopa County jail on $500,000 cash-only bail, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.
6. Brookshire Assisted Living Facility
When 39-year-old Guettie Belizare went missing on the job for two hours, her co-workers at a Melbourne, Florida, assisted living facility went looking for her. She was later found wearing nothing but her bra in the room of a 69-year-old resident suffering from dementia, according to the Miami Herald. The man claimed Belizare had raped him, which was later corroborated by DNA evidence. She was arrested in April 2019 and charged with abuse of elderly or disabled adult without great harm and lewd and lascivious molestation of elderly or disabled adult and released after posting $10,000 bond. She is currently awaiting trial.
For more harrowing tales of medical malpractice, tune in as Oxygen investigates the jaw-dropping cases of murderous doctors, nurses and medical professionals in “License to Kill,” premiering on Saturday, August 8 at 7PM ET/PT. Hosted by renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow (“Botched”), the series chronicles the harrowing accounts of patients put into jeopardy by medical professionals’ insidious use of their expertise.
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