Cops Don't Investigate Sex Assault Claim At Nursing Home

CALL7 Investigators Uncover More Issues At Woodridge Park

An elderly, helpless woman told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia that she reported being sexually assaulted at a Commerce City nursing home and she claimed the nurses did nothing. Ferrugia discovered the police failed to investigate the case until 7NEWS began asking questions.

"She was in the shower and the [Certified Nurse Aide] came to the shower and took off all his clothes and he got into the shower with her," explained Fred Vialpondo, brother of the woman who said she was assaulted.

His 63-year-old sister, Rose Elm, was a patient at the Woodridge Park Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Commerce City. The facility has been the subject of several CALL7 Investigations and is currently under investigation by state and federal agencies.

"Was the person who hurt you employed by Woodridge?" Ferrugia asked Elm. She is battling advanced Parkinson's disease, which has robbed her ability to speak clearly.

"Yes," she replied.

"You saw him?" asked Ferrugia.

"Yes," said Elm.

According to her brother, the director of Woodridge Park, Angie Hererra, denied that one of her employees was involved.

Elm told Ferrugia that she reported a sexual assault to the nurses at the facility.

"He started to rub my breasts real hard and he started squeezing them and he pinched by nipples real hard," explained Elm.

"He did that to you in the shower?" asked Ferrugia.

"Yes, yes, and touched my private parts," she said.

"What did you do?" asked Ferrugia.

"I screamed for help," said Elm.

"Did anybody help?" Ferrugia asked.

"No," she said.

Police Not Notified Of Sex Assault Claim

The CALL7 Investigators have obtained records showing that Commerce City police were not even notified of the sex assault claim until three days after it allegedly happened on April 2.

And even then, police never contacted or interviewed Elm.

"The nursing home knew of the sexual assault over the weekend?" Ferrugia asked Commerce City Police Lt. Chuck Saunier who replied, "Yes."

Ferrugia continued, "But [Woodridge Park] had not reported it until Tuesday?"

"That's correct," said Saunier.

"And once you got the information, nothing happened?" Ferrugia asked.

"That's correct," said Saunier.

Nearly three weeks after the alleged assault, Elm's brother brought her to the police department to be interviewed and a criminal investigation is now under way, as is, an internal affairs investigation into the department's failure to investigate the case.

"Can you tell me your policy for reporting sexual assaults here at Woodridge?" Ferrugia asked Herrera.

Ferrugia met her outside her work. She refused to answer any questions.

Woodridge Park Claims Woman's Injuries Came From 'Transfer Fall'

The alleged assault is just one of a number of questionable incidents, injuries and deaths at the nursing home that the CALL7 Investigators have uncovered in the past two years.

"I find my mother looks like she's been in a major car accident. She's got blood coming from the back of her head. She's got a neck collar on and she's on a backboard, screaming," said Hollybeth Kulick, whose 89-year old mother, Barbara Kennedy, was a patient at Woodridge Park. Earlier this year, Kennedy was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries including bleeding in her brain.

Kulick told Ferrugia she could not get answers from the management of Woodridge Park.

In fact, the CALL7 Investigators have learned the nursing home administrators have offered three different variations as to what had happened to Kennedy, including claiming it was a "transfer fall" while being shifted from her bed to a chair.

But the ambulance report said nothing about a transfer fall. It read, "89-year old Female PT lying on linoleum floor of her residential room. Pool of blood approx. 6 in. wide radiating from mid occipital... staff state cleaning person witnessed fall from standing."

Kulick had never seen the ambulance report and was flabbergasted when Ferrugia handed it to her.

"My mother couldn't stand up on her own if you wanted her to. There's no way. She has ataxia, she has vertigo, and you have to hold her up," said Kulick, who had noted something else when she saw her mother in the hospital.

Raising her fists to her face to block her face, Kulick explained, "She was like this. Her mouth clenched and her fists up like this. That's defensive. That's telling me that's not a transfer fall."

The CALL7 Investigators discovered officials at the nursing home had told yet another story about Kennedy's injuries. In a state health department report, nursing home officials told investigators, "The attending [Certified Nurse Aide] requested the resident to stand next to the bed as she straightened the linen ... the resident fell to the floor next to the bed."

There was no mention of a transfer to a chair and no mention of a cleaning person witnessing the fall.

And Woodridge Park would not give Kulick the incident report on her mother, who died a month after suffering her injuries.

No autopsy was performed.

"The fact they won't discuss this with you, what does that tell you?" Ferrugia asked Kulick.

"That they have a lot to hide," said Kulick.

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