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For Immediate Release
October 18, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

NURSING ASSISTANT PLEADS GUILTY TO
ASSAULTING 98-YEAR-OLD WHEELCHAIR-BOUND RESIDENT

J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a Certified Nursing Assistant, Nicheia M. Powell, 22, of the 700 block of Winston Avenue pleaded guilty to 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 the eyewitness account, 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 98-year-old resident who is deaf, mute, suffers from alzheimers, and is wheelchair-bound, when the resident had a bowel movement. 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 Circuit Court Judge Bonita J. Dancy sentenced Powell to three years incarceration, suspending the entire sentence, three years unsupervised probation, and ordered Powell to stay out of the direct care field for three years and that she perform 200 hours community service.

"My Office will continue to vigorously prosecute cases of patient abuse, while we also seek to educate Marylanders about the warning signs and dangers of abuse of the elderly," Attorney General Curran said.

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.

On October 23, 2002, Attorney General Curran will be hosting a town hall discussion about preventing and detecting abuse and the legal and psycho-social impact of abuse on the elderly. The town hall meeting will be held at the College of Notre Dame from 9:00-12:00. For more information please call 1 (866) 298-8245.

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