Worker accused of sex assault on 89-year-old at Henrico nursing home

Worker accused of sex assault on 89-year-old at Henrico nursing home

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A 19-year-old is behind bars accused of inappropriately touching an 89-year-old resident at a rehabilitation facility in Henrico.

Police arrested Stephen Anthony Burton and charged him with one count of object sexual penetration in connection with the assault. Burton was a staff member at the Laurels of University Park on Pemberton Road when the assault took place on June 7, according to police and court records. He was arrested at his Henrico home early Wednesday.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Catherine Chiovaro, regional manager at the Laurels of University Park, issued a statement saying the employee charged is no longer employed there. The statement in full:

The Laurels of University Park honors the privacy of its residents. It is due to these professional practices that the information that can be shared is of a limited nature.
On June 18, 2014, Henrico County investigators informed our staff of an alleged incident between a staff member and a prior resident and requested our cooperation in their investigation. Upon this notification, the staff member in question was immediately suspended and did not return to employment with The Laurels of University Park.
Facility staff then completed a thorough investigation and review of the incident per regulations and protocol, reporting to the appropriate agencies in full cooperation with law enforcement. The employee had worked for us approximately 30 days in total. No other incidents or concerns were identified.
All Laurel employees undergo a full criminal background check prior to employment.
The Laurels of University Park continues to cooperate with the Henrico County Police Department and other Federal and State Regulatory Agencies as appropriate.

While police were told about this case of alleged elderly abuse, advocates say it's under reported.

"Abuse of older adults is a growing problem, It's also one that has been very invisible," says Dr. Paula Kupstas, a program director at the Virginia Center on Aging.

There are signs.  "If it's sexual abuse it may be bruises in places like the inner thigh, it may be unexplained sexually transmitted diseases," she said.

Dr. Kupstas says the elderly become targets because many live in isolation and are afraid.  "If somebody is saying this is happening to them you really need to pay attention and not dismiss it or diminish it," she said.  And letting the victim know it's not their fault is one of the most important things this doctor says a person can do.

Burton was scheduled to be arraigned on the charge on Wednesday morning in Henrico General District Court, but the case was continued to December 11.

The Laurels received a three out of five star

. The site says the facility has 145 beds and 141 residents with short-term, rehabilitation, hospice and long-term care offerings.

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