Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

Family of raped incapacitated woman accuses senior living facility of negligence

2-25-15 Michigan:

The family of a 69-year-old incapacitated woman raped by a male employee at a Sterling Heights assisted living center says its operators knew of one or more other sexual assaults by the man but failed to stop them.

The woman's representative recently filed a negligence lawsuit against Harbor Chase of Sterling Heights Inc., its parent company and Mazen Zuhairi in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

The legal action came about two weeks before Zuhairi, 22, was sentenced Feb. 18 in criminal court to two to 30 years in prison by Judge James Biernat Jr.

"If someone sexually molested your mother or grandmother, you would want to kill them," Biernat told Zuhairi. "You're lucky you live here in this time."

The victim's daughter said in court the incident has devastated the family, and physically and mentally damaged her mother "forever." Several family members attended the sentencing.

"I can't get that horrible day out of my mind when I found out what happened," she said, weeping. "I know I'll never have answers to understand why."

Zuhairi, who has no prior criminal record, apologized in court. His attorney, Helal Farhat, said his client is remorseful.

The punishment was within the sentencing guideline range of 21 to 35 months in prison. He will have to register as a sex offender upon release.

Harbor Chase, located on 19 Mile Road, specializes in treating patients with dementia; it contains four "houses" located within the facility dedicated to different levels of care, its website says.

Jamie Mathews, regional director for Harbor Chase's parent company, Harbor Retirement Associates LLC, said in a prepared statement recently that the company apologizes to the victim's family, facility residents and others.

She said HRA suspended Zuhairi on June 3 "for actions which allegedly violated company policy" and fired him June 28, the same day he was arrested by police.

She declined to comment on any accusations that may have arisen prior to his suspension.

The lawsuit says the incident occurred in the victim's room Monday, May 5, or Friday, May 9, but that Zuhairi assaulted her at least once before or after. Earlier the same day of the incident, Zuhairi was seen leaving her darkened room, according to the lawsuit.

Within a month prior to the incident, an employee told his supervisor, the director of resident care, that the victim told the employee "a man was messing her and would not stop," according to the lawsuit. But the supervisor responded that the victim "was stuck in the past" and "nothing could be done," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Harbor Chase Executive Director Michelle Kimberly said that during the week of May 5 or May 12 the victim "started crying hysterically during activities" and told Kimberly a man entered her apartment and "did things to her." The victim told Kimberly "to get him out of here" and identified Zuhairi as the only person there, the lawsuit says.

"Nothing was done to prevent defendant Zuhairi from accessing (the victim's) apartment again or to keep him away from female residents ... nor was any investigation done to determine the basis for the statements," the lawsuit says.

On June 4, according to the lawsuit, an employee witnessed Zuhairi engaging in oral sex with a male resident in a bathroom at Harbor Chase. Police were called, and Zuhairi admitted to both incidents, the lawsuit says. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct for the incident with the male, but that charge was dropped.

The lawsuit, which seeks more than $25,000 in damages, says Harbor Chase "had a duty" to protect its residents and investigate any potential wrongdoing but failed to do so.

HRA, based in Vero Beach, Fla., is the parent company of Harbor Chase. HRA operates 19 senior living facilities - two in Michigan, including in Auburn Hills; 11 in Florida; three in South Carolina; two in Alabama, and one in Illinois, according to its website. ..Source.. by JAMESON COOK

No comments: