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Nursing home sex abuse leads to lawsuit

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CASHMERE, Wash. -- Incompetent, negligent and potentially responsible for death. Strong accusations made in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Cashmere Convalescent Center.

The KOMO 4 investigators exposed the Center's failure to prevent the sexual abuse of patients in the dementia ward.

Lynda Freeman has fought so hard for her sister. Years of battling medical red tape, her sister's deteriorating mind and body, and now a fight in the courtroom.

State investigators said the nursing home allowed one patient in the dementia ward to sexually abuse multiple patients -- including freeman's sister -- who was bedbound and can barely speak.

"She laid in that bed, frightened to death that this would happen again. It was just horrible," said John Thomas, who represents Freeman.

He alleges the center suppressed and concealed the abuses and that the staff was unfit, unqualified and incompetent.

A large part of the case rests on the nursing supervisor, who told the state that the sexual abuser had rights to pleasure that could not be denied.

"'Including sexual satisfaction and intimacy needs.' When I read that, I was shocked," Thomas said.

Freeman and her siblings couldn't speak Tuesday because of their grief. They say that since the abuse in January their sister's health worsened with depression and a 30 pound weight loss.

"That downturn was rapid and ultimately she passed," Thomas said.

As this civil case begins, the Nursing Home Administrators board is still investigating Cashmere owner Bill Dronan. The federal government fined the center $6,000. The state only required a rewrite of policies and more classes for nurses.

Thomas said there needs to be more punishment.

"They were required to be proactive. They were required to notify the family. They didn't do that. They were required to put that man in isolation. They didn't do that," Thomas said.

A family in mourning, and a failure of care still unresolved. And if you can't live up to that duty, don't be in this business.

So far the Chelan county sheriff's office have been tight lipped about the status of any possible criminal charges for any staff members. it's still believed the abuser is in care at a hospital ward in Wenatchee.

Operator Bill Dronan did not return a call for comment. The Chelan County Sheriff's Office has not completed an investigation into a criminal misconduct.

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