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

January 15, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a geriatric nursing assistant, Nicheia M. Powell, was charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult and second degree assault for allegedly hitting a vulnerable adult nursing home resident and stuffing a teddy bear in the resident's mouth and then intentionally stepping with the full weight of her body on the resident's feet.

According to the application for statement of charges, on August 26, 2001, Powell was a caregiver at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, located in Baltimore city. She was providing care to a vulnerable adult resident when the resident had a bowel movement. The victim was holding onto a teddy bear, which the victim treats like a baby. Powell grabbed the teddy bear out of the victim's arms and hit the victim several times in the back and top of the head and face with the teddy bear. Powell then tried to stuff the teddy bear into the victim's mouth. After transferring the victim into a wheel chair, Powell then stood with both of her feet and with full weight on the vulnerable adult victim's feet. A caregiver yelled for Powell to stop. Powell then stepped back off the victim's feet and left the victim's room.

Abuse of a vulnerable adult is a misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Second degree assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. An application for statement of charges is an accusation, and all persons are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case was prosecuted by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has authority to prosecute abuse.