Two male nurses in San Diego are being investigated after security camera footage shows them fondling a 98-year-old stroke victim and each other in her bedroom.
The footage, taken between March 3 and March 11, 2011, shows Russel Torralba and Alfredo Ruiz apparently masturbating and groping each other at the foot of their patient's bed, XETV reported. A 98-year-old woman lies unable to speak or move her hands because of a stroke.
In one video, one of the men appears to be undoing his scrubs and exposing himself. Another shows the same man kissing the woman.
William Berman, attorney for the woman's family. said he was shocked by the videos.
"I myself couldn't believe it," Berman told XETV-TV, adding that it was the most shocking case of elder abuse he's seen in 15 years of practice in that specialty.
Torralba and Ruiz have had their nursing licenses suspended pending a hearing next week and the San Diego District Attorney's office is considering criminal charges. The California Department of Consumer Affairs has been conducting an investigation into their employer, AMS Home Care Solutions, since last year.
“It appears to show very egregious behavior,” Department spokesman Russ Heimerich told the San Diego Union-Tribune.“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a case that has a video like this. We are working to shut them down.”
WARNING: The following video is GRAPHIC.
After suffering a stroke and right-side paralysis in 2005, the woman hired skilled nurses to work two 12-hour shifts at her home at a rate of $1,300 a day, Berman told the North County Times. He said the woman's daughter suspected her mother wasn't being cared for properly, but complaints went nowhere until family members saw the security camera footage.
The current suspension on Ruiz and Torralba bars the men from working for home health agencies, but allows them to work in hospital settings. A hearing on the permanent suspension of their licenses is scheduled for Nov. 14.
The victim's family has sued the two men and their employer for alleged fraud, elder abuse and negligent supervision and that trial is set for Jan. 14.
“It’s not about the money," Berman told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "it’s about dignity and accountability, to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else."
AMS Home Care Solutions responded to the allegations of Ruiz and Torralba's actions, by releasing an official statement stating that the company is "deeply shocked and saddened by the disgusting behavior" revealed on the video.
"Before referring any employee to a client, we conduct exhaustive and thorough background checks," the statement continued. "These checks include, but are not limited to, using state-of-the-art Live Scan technology which uses digitally scanned fingerprints and related information that is checked by the U.S. Department of Justice."
The statement went on to state that the company is avoiding making any public statements that could hinder any investigation, but if criminal wrongdoing is determined, the company will "provide all needed support to ensure all criminal acts are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
UPDATE: This updated version includes a statement by AMS Home Care Solutions.
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