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Thursday
Apr072011

Pa. Nursing Home Workers Caught Abusing Woman on Hidden Camera

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(HAVERFORD, Pa.) -- Family members of a 78-year-old woman used a hidden camera to capture Haverford, Penn., nursing home employees hitting and taunting the woman, who suffers from dementia.

The video shows employees at the Quadrangle senior living facility hitting the woman, pulling at her sensitive ears, poking her eye and refusing to help her put on her shirt.

"The video depicts criminal activity directed at a senior victim in our county," Delaware County District Attorney Michael Green said. "It's abusive. ... It's the humiliation which is most difficult to watch on the video. No senior resident of a facility should be subjected to that kind of behavior, particularly from a health care provider."

Ayesha Muhammad, 19, was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated assault and simple assault. Tyrina Griffin, 21, was arrested Wednesday and charged with the same offenses. Haverford police arrested Samirah Traynham, 22, on Monday and charged her with six offenses, including aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and harassment. The investigation is ongoing.

The camera, hidden in a bedroom clock, was placed in Lois McCallister's room by her daughter and son-in-law after Quadrangle officials denied that the woman was being abused.

The 12-minute video shows three employees taunting McCallister, who was housed in the Holly Building, designed for those living with severe dementia.

"During the majority of the 12-minute encounter recorded by the camera, McCallister stood naked from the waist up attempting to cover her breasts," the court affidavit reads.

Not knowing what the hidden camera had captured, McCallister's daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Paul Franch, showed up for one of their regular visits with the woman five minutes after the abuse had taken place.

They described McCallister as agitated, and she repeatedly asked them, "Why do they keep picking on me?," according to the affidavit.

The couple went to nursing home officials in early March, saying that McCallister told them she'd been hit and slapped.

Quadrangle officials attributed the allegations to the woman's dementia.

After spotting bruises on the woman's wrist and left hand, McCallister's daughter and son-in-law had the camera installed.

"Many dementia patients can communicate some things in a way that is somewhat lucid if you know them well and work with them on a regular basis as these folks [the French couple] did," District Attorney Green said.

McCallister is now living with her daughter and son-in-law.

The organization that runs the Quadrangle facility, Sunrise Senior Living, issued a statement saying that the employees in the video have been fired. Brent Russell from Sunrise Senior Living told ABC affiliate WPVI that they were cooperating with police in the investigation.

The video that was taken is legal because it had no audio, and McCallister's daughter and son-in-law had legal authority over the elderly woman to put a camera in her room, Green said. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has also launched a separate investigation into the alleged abuse.

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