Former aide charged with abuse 24 elderly nursing home patients


A former nursing assistant was released last night on $25,000 bail after she was charged with abusing 24 elderly residents under her care at an Annapolis nursing home, authorities said.

Annapolis police alleged that the assistant roughed up residents of the Annapolis Convalescent Center, including shoving some into wheelchairs, walls and beds, between May 1 and Aug. 27. Many of the victims are in their 80s or 90s.

Some victims allegedly received bruises from being shoved, kicked or slapped. One 85-year-old woman reported that "her pride was hurt more than her body" from the abuse, according to a charging document.

The former nursing assistant, Michele Olee Graves, 20, of Annapolis, was released from the Anne Arundel County Jail. She had been fired from her job earlier this month.

Earlier yesterday, at a hearing in Annapolis District Court, Judge Clayton Greene lowered her bail from $150,000 and ordered her to be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine if she is competent to stand trial, said her attorney, Gill Cochran.

Police charged Graves Wednesday with four counts of vulnerable adult abuse and 20 counts of battery, said Officer Dermott L. Hickey, Annapolis police spokesman.

The nursing home told police about the abuse allegations earlier this month, nursing director Charlotte Stouder said. "We cleaned up our own house," she said.

According to a charging document, an assistant:

*Kicked a 91-year-old woman on the right shin because she placed her dinner tray on a bed last month.

*Shoved an 84-year-old woman sitting in her wheelchair into a wall last month.

*Hit that same woman in the right eye in mid-July after arguing with her about eating her food.

*Threatened a 72-year-old woman by telling her she would chop off her limbs and use them to beat the woman's son over the head. The assistant also allegedly shoved the woman into bed several times since May 1.

*Picked up an 84-year-old man by his shirt collar, swung him around, slammed him onto his bed and then shoved him back while trying to undress him last month.

In addition, an 85-year-old woman told her daughter she was thrown into her wheelchair, onto her bed and onto a toilet because the assistant "was mad that she had to take care of her," the charging document said.

Police say at least one co-worker witnessed each of the abuse incidents. The co-workers later informed nursing home officials. "As the employees began to realize that this was happening, they were frightened and scared, which is why they didn't come forward immediately," Stouder said.

Graves worked there for more than a year, she said.

Cochran said people should not make any assumptions about the case against Graves, who will plead not guilty. "There's an awful lot of smoke, but I'm not sure there's fire yet."

The attorney said Graves lives with her family and takes care of her 19-year-old retarded brother.

Each vulnerable adult abuse count -- a relatively new charge -- carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Each battery charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Police and attorneys involved in the case could not recall another such case with similar charges in county history.

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