Hermantown, MN- An 89 year-old woman and her family is suing a Minnesota nursing home after she was raped by a nursing assistant and administrators allegedly impeded the ensuing investigation, accusing the victim instead.
In January of 2013, the elderly woman said as she was getting ready for bed, 30 year-old Andrew Scott Merzwski entered her room and began taking his clothes off, according to the Star Tribune. The elderly woman tried to stop the young man by pointing to a photograph of her husband and telling him what he was doing was not right. That did not stop his advances and he raped the vulnerable woman.
The next day the woman told her daughter about the incident and Merzwski was arrested. Last month he pleaded guilty to the rape and was sentenced to the 53 months in prison. He was brought to justice, but the home wasn’t held accountable and in the days after the assault they treated the woman more like a perpetrator than a victim.
The woman’s daughter called police immediately, but the facility waited for two days to notify authorities about the sexual assault. Merzwski admitted to the assault the next, but the facility acted slowly. The Star Tribune reported, the Edgewood Vista nursing home did not initiate an investigation until ten days after the assault took place.
A police report following the incident noted that the victim’s bed linens and underwear were blood soaked after the assault, and the she washed those items the next day.
The Edgewood nursing home then sent the victim to hospital for psychiatric treatment in order to determine if her allegations were true. She was in the facility for three days even though a physical exam showed she sustained a serious injury during the attack.
On top of that, a nurse examiner who administered the rape kit for the victim was asked by the home’s clinical services director Marilyn Moore asked Ms. Flesvig: “Did she tell you that this was consensual? Did she tell you that she flirts with this boy mercilessly?”
Ms. Flesvig told the Star Tribune that she felt as though the facility was solely blaming the victim.
In addition to mistreating and blaming the victim of this assault, the home was not cited for the incident and only Merzwski was held accountable.
Attorneys representing the rape victim said the Edgewood facility never informed the hospital that the Merzwski admitted to the assault. A sexual assault advocate said in court documents that nursing home never mentioned Merzwski admitted the assaulted in her numerous visits.
Moore also told the advocate that elderly woman was “making it up” and was a flirt.
The victim’s attorney also said the state Health Department failed as regulatory body by investigating the allegations and not punishing the Edgewood facility.
The Edgewood facility said they cooperated with officials and the safety of their patients was a priority. But the way they treated this woman was shameful and she deserves compensation for her suffering.