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For Immediate Release
August 11, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

NURSING 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 been set.

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.

During the 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 Office.

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