Elder abuse charges to come
Published 10:56 am Monday, November 24, 2008
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office no longer will be assisting the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office in prosecution against the four teenagers allegedly involved in abuse at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home of Albert Lea, according to a news release issued Friday by Freeborn County Attorney’s Office.
Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson states in the release that his office received a formal letter written by Deputy Attorney General David S. Vogt on Thursday that was dated two days prior.
It advised that the state Attorney General’s Office would not be helping with the criminal prosecution of the former nursing assistants because it now intends to represent the Minnesota Department of Health in a civil appeals case also tied to the Good Sam abuse allegations.
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Nelson will issue charges and juvenile petitions within the next few days as deemed appropriate from the obtained evidence, the release states.
According to the release, the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services disqualified four teenagers allegedly involved in the abuse from working at any licensed or unlicensed care facility in Minnesota, and “three of the suspects have challenged the maltreatment findings and the administ disqualifications.”
Because the Attorney General’s Office believes the civil appeals process and the criminal process must be kept separate, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will represent the Minnesota Department of Health in the civil portion but will “not be providing the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office with any information it has obtained through the production of information or evidence in the civil/regulatory process,” the release states.
“Because the allegations raised in the civil proceedings are very troubling, the Attorney General’s Office intends to vigorously represent the Department of Health in the contested administrative litigation,” it continues.
The Freeborn County Attorney’s Office is recovering the criminal investigative files from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and is assessing the situation, according to the release.
Prior to this, the state Attorney General’s Office had taken over the prosecution of the two suspects who were adults at the time of the alleged incidents, and Nelson’s office was prosecuting the other two suspects, who were 17 at the time.
They are all now 18 or older.
At that time, Nelson said he thought an objective, third party outside of the community would be better situated to make the final prosecutorial decisions for the adults in the case.
The details of abuse allegations surfaced after the release of a Minnesota Department of Health report Aug. 28 that concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home in Albert Lea.
Charges and petitions will be filed in Freeborn County District Court and those teenagers charged will be notified by mail of the charges.
The names will be made public at the time of the charges. The Freeborn County Court Administrator’s Office will establish dates and times for the first appearances in court.