Special Reports

Hazard Nursing Home charged in sex abuse case

The administrator of Hazard Nursing Home and the company that owns the facility have been criminally charged with failure to report the suspected sexual abuse of an elderly resident in 2009, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Thursday.

Sheila Noe, 61, the administrator who was also acting on behalf of the company that owns Hazard Nursing Home, "was made aware of the suspected sexual abuse of a patient by another patient on Aug. 8, 2009, and failed to report the suspected abuse to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services" as required by state law, Conway's statement said.

Noe was not at the nursing home at 5 p.m. Thursday. Eddie Woodruff, a spokesman for the home, said he had not seen the charges and could not comment on them.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services conducted an inspection in May after becoming aware of the allegations of sex abuse at the Perry County home.

That led the cabinet to issue a Type A citation to the home June 1, saying that a resident's life or safety has been endangered because of violations of state regulations. Investigators from the Attorney General's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control then initiated a criminal investigation.

"The facility failed to protect residents from unwanted sexual contact, failed to report the allegations to appropriate state agencies and failed to thoroughly investigate the allegations of sexual abuse," said the state's citation.

The Herald-Leader reported on the incidents of suspected sexual abuse against 88-year-old Mae Campbell, who has Alzheimer's, on July 25. While the newspaper normally does not identify victims of sexual abuse, Campbell's family identified her to bring the problem of sexual abuse in nursing homes to the public's attention.

According to the Type A citation, a male resident blocked Campbell inside his room in August 2009.

When nursing home staff members found her, she had semen on her. The male resident's "penis was exposed," the Type A citation said.

In another incident, which was not noted in the attorney general's statement Thursday but was described in a deposition, Campbell was sitting in the hallway of the home last year when, within sight of a nursing supervisor and other staff members, a male resident walked up and ejaculated on her face.

"It is my hope that today's charges send a message to nursing home operators and administrators that they have an obligation to notify authorities if a resident is abused while in their care," Conway said in a statement.

A summons has been issued for Noe and for the registered agent for Hazard Nursing Home to appear in Perry District Court on Sept. 13, according to a statement from Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Conway.

The "failure to report" charge is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and $250 in fines.

John Campbell and his brother learned of their mother's alleged abuse from Hazard Attorney Jeff Morgan after Morgan deposed two former nursing home staff members in an unrelated wrongful death case. The two described the incidents involving Campbell.

In an earlier interview with the Herald-Leader, Morgan said the nursing home didn't tell the Campbell family about the incidents even after the former employees revealed it.

Morgan, who was interviewing the two in the wrongful death case, notified John Campbell and another son, Rodney Campbell, of their mother's alleged abuse. He now represents them in a lawsuit in which they allege that neither they nor authorities were contacted about the sexual abuse.

After the Herald-Leader reported the alleged sex abuse last month, WYMT-TV in Hazard quoted nursing home spokesman Woodruff as saying the article "contained many inaccurate and misleading statements."

But Thursday, Woodruff told the Herald-Leader he could not comment on that statement "because of the investigation."

He also declined to comment on the criminal charges. However, he said, "Hazard Nursing Home has given consistently excellent care to over 7,000 residents of Eastern Kentucky since opening in 1976.

"We were named statewide facility of the year in 1989 by the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities. We employ over 200 people who have a heart for resident care, and we treat them like family."

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