August 11, 2004
ASSISTANT FOUND GUILTY OF FELONY NEGLECT OF A VULNERABLE ADULT
In one of only a handful of reported criminal neglect cases throughout
the country, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today
that a former certified nursing assistant, Haja Bah, was convicted
by a Worcester County jury of felony neglect of a vulnerable adult
in the first degree for leaving a developmentally disabled woman,
Violette S., alone in a bathtub with the water running. As a result
of the neglect, Violette suffered second degree burns on 40% of
her body and was hospitalized for almost seven weeks. A conviction
for first degree neglect requires a jury finding that the neglect
resulted in serious physical injury to the victim. The case was
tried before the Honorable Theodore Eschenburg. Bah faces up to
10 years in jail and a fine of $10,000. A sentencing date has not
Bah, 25,of Landover, Maryland, was a caretaker for Violette, a
46 year old developmentally disabled woman in a group home in Washington,
D.C. operated by St. Johns Community Services. In September, 2003,
Bah and two co-workers took Violette and three other developmentally
disabled residents on a vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. Violette
is profoundly mentally disabled, partially paralyzed on her right
side, cannot communicate verbally and suffers from a seizure disorder.
She requires 24 hour supervision pursuant to the plan of care at
St. Johns and cannot be left alone.
morning of September 5, 2003, Bah placed Violette in the bathtub.
She turned on the water and then left the room. While
she was gone, the water temperature increased to over 130 degrees.
Bah left Violette alone long enough for the victim to sustain second
degree burns on 40% of her body. Violette could not call out or
get out of the bathtub. Photos of her left foot showed that her
foot was directly under the faucet and was severely burned. Other
photographs indicted that she had been thrashing about in the tub
before she was discovered alone by one of Bah’s co-workers.
Bah admitted to a State investigator that she left Violette alone
for 5 to 10 minutes. Bah also admitted, and other testimony confirmed,
that she had been trained to never leave a developmentally disabled
person alone in a bathtub. Specifically, Bah had been trained never
to leave Violette alone at any time.
Bah had been
freed on $10,000 bail. Because of the effect the verdict will
have on her immigration status, after the verdict,
Judge Eschenburg raised Bah’s bail to $50,000 and Bah was
taken into custody from the courtroom.
This case was
prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid
Fraud Control Unit, which has authority to prosecute vulnerable
adult abuse and neglect in facilities that receive Medicaid funds,
in conjunction with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s