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Minnesota Teens Charged with Nursing Home Abuse While Friends Looked On

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According to a criminal complaint filed Monday, several female high school students who worked together as part-time aides at Albert Lea, Minnesota’s Good Samaritan nursing home have been accused of abusing the residents they were hired to care for.

Reported abuses include taunting seven different residents, spitting on them and in their mouths, and poking and rubbing their genitals.

Two of the young women, Brianna Marie Broitzman, 19, and Ashton Michelle Larson, 18, were old enough at the time of the alleged abuse to be charged as adults—Broitzman for 11 counts and Larson for 10. The six others involved were all 17 at the time, and have thus only been identified by birthdates and initials. Two of these young women will be tried as juveniles for abusing the residents; the other four have been charged in juvenile court for failing to report the maltreatment they witnessed.

Monday, Broitzman and Larson were charged with fifth-degree assault, abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver, disorderly conduct, and failing to report suspected maltreatment—all gross misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine per count.

If found guilty, "they most likely will face suspended jail sentences and probation, so they’d have the threat of jail hanging over them if they get in more trouble," said Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson, who filed the charges Monday.

Since summer, Nelson has said that prosecuting the aides could prove difficult because the evidence is largely based on their own statements and those made by another aide who blew the whistle to the home’s administrators while she was being fired for swearing in front of a resident. That aide was among those charged as a juvenile. –Warren Wolfe, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Allegations against the teens first went public in August, after state health department inspectors found that four of them had abused over a dozen residents in efforts to make “work fun.”

The abusive acts allegedly occurred between Jan. 1 and May 1, 2008. When the Good Samaritan learned of the health department’s allegations in May, it fired the four accused aides.