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


December 10, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

NURSING ASSISTANT GUILTY OF SECOND DEGREE ASSAULT OF AN 88-YEAR-OLD RESIDENT

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that a Geriatric Nursing Assistant, Sherry L. Ritch, was found guilty by a Baltimore City jury of second degree assault of a vulnerable adult. Ritch, 44, of the 5500 block of Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, was convicted of second degree assault for spraying incontinent care foam into the face of an 88-year-old resident at Keswick Multi-Care Center in Baltimore.

The incident occurred on August 12, 1999, during the victimís morning incontinent care at Keswick, where Ritch was employed as a paid caregiver assisting vulnerable adults with their Activities of Daily Living, such as clothing, bathing, and feeding. The victim suffered from Alzheimerís disease and was demented and bi-polar manic stage. The victim was bed-bound and required around the clock care with all of her daily living activities. On August 12th, Ritch entered the victimís room to give her incontinent care. The victim was not receptive to this care and started calling Ritch racial slurs. A nurse heard yelling and screaming coming from the victimís room and saw Ritch arguing with the victim. The nurse entered the room and assisted Ritch with the caregiving, and the victim continued to be combative. Although Ritch knew of the victimís mental state, she made a fist at the victim, threatened her, and made racial remarks. After the care was completed, instead of leaving the room, Ritch picked up a bottle of incontinent care foam and sprayed it into victimís face. The nurse who witnessed the incident immediately wiped the substance off the victimís face.

"Ms. Ritch was hired to provide care for elderly residents with significant physical and emotional needs," Attorney General Curran said. "Behavior like Ritchís will not be tolerated and will be vigorously prosecuted by this Office."

Sentencing will take place on January 10, 2002 in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. 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. Curranís Criminal Investigations Division and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit prosecute cases involving the physical abuse and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, in accordance with the Attorney Generalís Elder Abuse Initiative.

###