Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ex-nursing home workers get 2 years for photos, videos of helpless patients

Two nursing home workers who admitted taking photos and videos of nude, helpless patients were sentenced today to two years in prison.

Mary Ann Burgess, 52, and April Longmire, 37, pleaded guilty last year to four counts of health care abuse each.

Circuit Judge Richard Vance handed down their punishment during the women’s respective hearings at the Sevier County courthouse.

The women, who worked as certified nursing assistants at Pigeon Forge Care and Rehabilitation Center, were indicted in September 2009 after a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation determined they took numerous nude and degrading photos of elderly patients, some dating back to 2007. Some of the photos included shots of patients sitting on the toilet and lying naked on the floor.

The women’s duties included dressing, changing and feeding severely disabled adults, many of whom suffered from mild dementia to sever Alzheimer’s.

TBI Agent T.J. Battle testified today that the photos were discovered after a lost phone was turned into nursing home employees. Administrators there found the pictures while trying to find out who the phone belonged to.

Battle testified that during interviews both women admitted to taking the photos and said the phone belonged to Longmire.

One victim’s daughter cried on the stand as she pointed to photos both women had taken of her mother.

“She was never the same after those two sickos done what they done to her,” the woman testified.

“She was scared of everyone. There is not a doubt in my mind that those two will do this again. Please keep in mind how helpless my mother was.”

Assistant District Attorney General George Ioannides had asked the judge to sentence both women to two years in prison — the maximum punishment allowed by law.

“Because of the vulnerability of the victims, their age, their various mental capacity and the fact these offenses were committed, we say, for the defendants’ pleasure and excitement ... we ask the court to impose a sentence of significant confinement,” Ioannides said.

“They had rights to privacy. They had rights to decency.”

Both women’s attorneys had asked that their clients receive probation for the offenses because they showed remorse for their actions .

In the end, Vance sentenced both women to prison time.

“The nature of these off were so shocking, reprehensible and offensive,” Vance said.

He ordered her both women to report to the Sevier County jail Feb. 19 to begin serving their sentences.

Both women, fired from the nursing home after the incident, were banned from ever working in a health care facility again.

Ex-nursing home workers get 2 years for photos, videos of helpless patients » Knoxville News Sentinel

No comments: