Teens charged with abuse appear in court

Published 10:19 am Thursday, January 22, 2009

The two young women charged in the case of alleged abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea did not enter pleas Wednesday during their arraignment in Freeborn County District Court. The majority of their initial court appearances resulted in Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab setting bail and conditions of release.

Albert Lea High School graduates Brianna Broitzman and Ashton Larson, both 19, have until 5 p.m. today to be booked into the jail, have their photographs and fingerprints taken and to post bail. Bail was set at $6,000 without conditions and $2,000 with conditions for both teenagers.

Broitzman appeared with her attorney, Larry Maus. Larson appeared with her attorney, Evan Larson.

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The courtroom was packed, mainly with the families of the alleged victims involved in the case.

It was the first time for many to see the two alleged abusers since the charges were filed in December, which included charges ranging from mandated failure to report suspected abuse to criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult and assault in the fifth degree.

The charges came after an investigation into allegations of abuse by the Albert Lea Police Department, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Health. The details of the allegations surfaced after the release of the Department of Health’s report in August that concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home in Albert Lea. The residents suffered from mental degradation conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Court papers filed with the charges state that the two teenagers allegedly spit water on residents, poked residents in the breasts, antagonized residents and tried to arouse residents by inappropriately touching them in the genitals, among other actions.

Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson recommended Schwab approve bail at $6,000 without conditions and $2,000 with conditions. These are the statutory maximum amounts for the charges filed.

Conditions include obeying the law, notifying the court of a change of address, not leaving the state unless pre-approved by the court, having no contact with alleged victims or their families, having no contact with co-defendants, whether charged as juvenile or adult, and having no contact with any witnesses, either via phone, e-mail or mail.

A default omnibus hearing was set for both teenagers for March 23 at 1 p.m.