ALBERT LEA, Minn. – For six assistants at an Albert Lea nursing home, poking, taunting and groping the vulnerable adults in their care was a laughing matter, prosecutors alleged Monday in filing criminal charges against the teens.
Two of the former Good Samaritan Society employees — 19-year-old Brianna Broitzman and 18-year-old Ashton Larson — are charged as adults, while the other four are considered juveniles in the Freeborn County case.
Messages left by The Associated Press for Broitzman and for an attorney representing Larson were not immediately returned Monday.
According to the criminal complaint, the teens laughed earlier this year as they spat in residents' mouths, poked and groped their breasts and genitals and at times taunted them until they screamed.
The four juveniles are charged with failing to report the incidents. A total of eight teens were allegedly involved in the incidents, but there was no record of criminal charges being filed against two of them.
Broitzman and Larson are charged with assault, abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver, abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, disorderly conduct and failing to report suspected maltreatment. All are gross misdemeanors.
If found guilty, Broitzman and Larson "most likely will face suspended jail sentences and probation, so they'd have the threat of jail hanging over them if they get in more trouble," Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Department of Health released a report in August showing that 15 residents with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia disorders were abused at the facility between Jan. 1 and May 1.
According to the complaint filed Monday, one of the aides said the group gathered at work or school to "talk and laugh about the incidents."
Mark Anderson, administrator at the Good Samaritan Society in Albert Lea, told WCCO-TV that the past few months have been difficult for the staff, the home's residents and their families.
"We are just really thankful that the proceedings are moving forward and hopefully can see some closure to this whole process," Anderson said.