Caregiver Pleads Guilty to Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult
Baltimore County nursing home employee struck elderly resident
MD ( Jan. 20, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Shirleen Diane Sheppard, 58, of Baltimore, has been convicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County of one count of Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult in the Second Degree. Judge Robert E. Cahill Jr., accepted the defendant's guilty plea and issued a three-year suspended prison sentence. Sheppard was placed on three years probation and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service within 12 months and is prohibited from being employed as a geriatric nursing assistant during the full term of probation.
"Maryland seniors move into assisted living and nursing facilities seeking a better quality of life and the constant medical care they may need," said Attorney General Gansler. "Abuse in this setting is unacceptable to this office and to the vast majority of professional caregivers who report it when they see it."
The charges against Sheppard arose out of an incident that occurred on October 17, 2010, at Stella Maris, a nursing home and care facility located in Timonium, where the defendant worked as a geriatric nursing assistant. While attending to an 82-year-old female resident, Sheppard became angry and slapped the patient in the face. The defendant then refused to place ointment on a rash of the patient. Sheppard then removed the assistance call button from the patient's reach.
Another nursing assistant witnessed what happened, rendered proper care to the patient and then reported the incident to authorities at the facility. The patient did not suffer any permanent physical injury. Stella Maris conducted an immediate investigation and fired Sheppard after she admitted to assaulting the patient.
At the January 18 Circuit Court hearing, Sheppard did not contest the charge against her and formally admitted her guilt.
The Attorney General wishes to thank Assistant Attorney General Stephen Roscher, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Investigator Mark Holback, the Baltimore County Police Department and Maryland State Police for their work on this case.