Attorney says her client 'absolutely' denies allegations that he abused woman, 87

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2013 

A former Cambridge Place Health Care employee charged with abusing an 87-year-old female resident with dementia "absolutely" denies it, his attorney said Friday.

The case of Frank Hicks, 49, who is charged with knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult "will likely end up in a jury trial," Lexington attorney Gayle Slaughter said after a hearing Friday in Fayette Circuit Court. Slaughter appeared before Judge Ernesto Scorsone on Friday to request a January hearing.

An indictment said Hicks, who was described in police reports as a caretaker at Lexington's Cambridge Place Health Care, unlawfully abused the woman. The indictment does not provide specifics.

According to a police report, a witness observed Hicks standing at the woman's bed with her knees up and his pelvic area pushed up against the patient. The witness said Hicks' belt was unbuckled, and he appeared to be aroused. The administrator called 911. The police citation said the patient said she was raped. Hicks has pleaded not guilty.

Hicks' arrest stems from an incident that was reported in April at Cambridge Place, 2020 Cambridge Drive. However, it followed an incident in January that involved another patient alleging abuse by a nurse's aide. No one was charged after the January incident.

Workers neglected to report that incident when it happened, causing Cambridge Place to receive a serious state citation and federal deficiencies.

In 2010, the Herald-Leader found eight cases of sexually related allegations among 107 state citations against Kentucky long-term care facilities over a three-year period. Fellow residents were among the alleged perpetrators in those cases.

Federal documents from the Cambridge Place investigations provide more information about the January incident. The documents tie the January incident to an April incident. The report says the nurses aide discussed in the January incident was arrested in April, but documents do not identify Hicks as the aide.

The documents said that last January, another resident — documents do not say whether the resident was male or female — at Lexington's Cambridge Place Health Care told staff that a male nurse's aide got in the bed and straddled them.

"He thinks he's sexy and tried to get in bed with me, but I kicked him away," the resident said in documents.

That resident — who the staff thought was having delusions — later said nothing happened, the document said.

The federal documents said the facility's administration did not tell state authorities about the comments because they didn't think the allegations were credible. The documents said nursing home officials allowed the employee to continue working.

Cambridge Place is currently in compliance with health care regulations, according to Cabinet spokeswoman Beth Fisher.

After the April incident, federal authorities levied "an immediate jeopardy" deficiency against the nursing home. Documents said the facility failed to ensure that residents were free from abuse.

Cambridge Place submitted corrective plans, but disputed the accuracy of the statements made in the federal documents. Facility officials said in federal documents that submitting a plan of correction did not constitute an admission of the alleged deficiencies.

Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services officials issued a Type A citation, which is given when the state finds that the facility failed to have an effective system in place to ensure residents were protected from abuse and that the facility placed residents in imminent danger.

Cambridge Place officials said in documents that it took several corrective steps, including firing the nurse's aide, and giving employees training on facility policies.

Nursing home officials declined comment Friday.

All of the residents — about 100 — were interviewed, and all but six agreed to physical examinations. There were no other allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, federal documents said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears

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