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

April 25, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a Certified Nursing Assistant, Nicheia M. Powell, 22, of the 700 block of Winston Avenue was found guilty of abuse of a vulnerable adult and second degree assault for hitting a vulnerable adult nursing home resident in the head with a teddy bear, stuffing the 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 eyewitness testimony, on August 26, 2001, Powell, a caregiver at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, located in Baltimore city, was providing care to a 98-year-old resident who is deaf, mute, suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and is wheelchair bound. The victim was holding onto a teddy bear, which is like a baby to the victim. 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 wheelchair, 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.

Baltimore City District Court Judge Gale E. Rasin sentenced Powell to two years incarceration, suspending the entire sentence, three years supervised probation, ordered Powell to stay out of the direct care field for three years and ordered that she perform 100 hours of community service.

"This victim found a way to give her life purpose by caring for her teddy bear as if it were her child. To have the defendant abuse her with it is incredibly cruel and sadistic," Attorney General Curran said. "We will prosecute patient abuse cases and we will seek jail time."

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

Beginning in June, Attorney General Curran will be hosting a series of town hall discussions about preventing and detecting abuse and the legal and psycho-social impact of abuse on the elderly. The first town hall discussion will be held on June 12, 2002 at Montgomery College in Rockville. A second town hall discussion will be held on July 24, 2002 at Prince George's Community College. For more information please call 1 (866) 298-8245.