Sunday, December 28, 2008

PA: Pittsburgh Care Home Workers Accused Of Elderly Assault

Police: 94-Year-Old Woman Hit At Allegheny County's Kane Center

POSTED: 12:00 pm EST December 24, 2008
UPDATED: 5:16 pm EST December 26, 2008

Five women were arrested and fired from an Allegheny County-run nursing home, accused of assaulting and verbally harassing a 94-year-old Alzheimer's patient.

"If they are found guilty, we don't want to see them working anywhere in this field," County Executive Dan Onorato said at a news conference Friday. "We want to send a clear message and an example with these five individuals that this type of activity won't be tolerated."

County police said the investigation began in November, based on reports from co-workers at Kane Glen Hazel on Rivermont Drive in Pittsburgh's Glen Hazel neighborhood. The facility is one of four Kane Regional Centers throughout the county.

Charges of aggravated assault and neglect of a care dependent person were filed Wednesday against Danielle Taylor, 46, of the North Side area, Shelly Keene, 35, of West Mifflin, and Karen Perry, 46, of Homestead.

"We received a report from another aide that the type of behavior that they witnessed was, I guess, could best be described as more of a taunting type of behavior," said Dennis Biondi, executive director of the Kane Regional Centers.

According to the police affidavit, one of the suspects allegedly struck the elderly resident, Thelma Bryant, in the head and hit her in the eye with a fist, cursed at her and threw an orange at her face.

Another suspect, Shalaya Hatten, 30, of Pittsburgh, was charged with simple assault and neglect of a care dependent person. According to a criminal complaint, Hatten was observed by a witness cursing at the victim and striking her with her elbow in the chest.

Three people said they witnessed Keene abusing the patient. One witness told police that Keene struck the victim in the forehead with her hand. Another witness reported seeing Keene stomp down hard on the victim's feet a number of times. A third person told police they heard the victim say to Keene, "Stop hitting me."

A fifth suspect, Mary Ann Bower, 57, of Munhall, was charged with summary harassment. The police criminal compliant was not immediately available in Bower's case.

Preliminary hearings for all of the suspects, except Bower, are scheduled for Jan. 5. A date for Bower's hearing has not been set.

Pennsylvania's departments of health and aging will conduct separate investigations to decide if the suspects' licenses will be revoked.

"Obviously, we want to make sure that these five individuals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Onorato said, adding that their benefits should be forfeited if the women are found guilty.

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