Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

March 13, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357



Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that a Geriatric Nursing Assistant (GNA), Katherine Freeman, was sentenced by Washington County District Court Judge R. Noel Spence to an 18-month suspended sentence for abusing an elderly nursing home resident.

Freeman, 21, of the 8700 block of Anthony Highway, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, entered a guilty plea to one count of vulnerable adult abuse for slapping a 62-year-old resident at Avalon Manor Health Care Center in Hagerstown. The judge placed Freeman on supervised probation for 18 months and ordered that Freeman not engage in caregiving in the health care field for hire or pro bono during the term of her probation. Judge Spence also ordered Freeman to complete an approved anger management counseling program and to pay a $1,000 fine, $700 of which was suspended.

The incident occurred on February 27, 2000, during the victim-residentís evening meal at Avalon, where Freeman was employed as a paid caregiver assisting vulnerable adults with their activities of daily living (ADL), such as clothing, bathing, and feeding. The victim-resident, a wheelchair bound patient suffering from alcohol dementia and hyper-tension and requiring assistance with her ADLs, was approached in the dining room by Freeman who informed him that he needed to hurry and finish eating his meal. When the victim-resident did not comply with Freemanís instructions, she attempted to forcibly feed him with a utensil. Freeman removed the victimís dinner tray before he finished his meal and slapped him on his arm. Freeman slapped him a second time on the arm when he poured his drink onto the floor. Other staff and residents present in the dining room heard the slaps and reported the incident to the nursing home administration.

"The abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver is a despicable act," Attorney General Curran said. "We will continue to prosecute these cases to both punish the guilty and dissuade others from future acts."

This case was handled by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney Generalís Office, which has the authority to investigate and prosecute vulnerable adult abuse and neglect in facilities receiving Medicaid funds.