BREAKING: Charges filed in Good Sam case
Court papers allege abuse of vulnerable adults
By Sarah Stultz | Albert Lea Tribune
Published Monday, December 1, 2008


Charges against two adults and four juveniles have been filed in Freeborn County District Court in the case of alleged abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

The charges, filed Monday, range from mandated failure to report suspected abuse to criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult and assault in the fifth degree.

According to court papers, Brianna Marie Broitzman, 19, has been charged with three counts of assault in the fifth degree of a caregiver to a vulnerable adult, three counts of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, three counts of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, one instance of disorderly conduct by a caregiver, and one instance of mandated reporter failure to report.

Ashton Michelle Larson, 18, has been charged with two counts of assault in the fifth degree of a caregiver to a vulnerable adult, one count of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, four counts of criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult with sexual contact, two counts of disorderly conduct by a caregiver and one count of mandated reporter failure to report.

The charges were filed by the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office. They are based on an investigation by the Albert Lea Police Department and the Freeborn County Sheriff's Office. Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson was not immediately available for comment.

The details of abuse allegations surfaced after the release of a Minnesota Department of Health report Aug. 28 that concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home in Albert Lea. The report did not release the names of the teenagers.

The teenagers are all Albert Lea High School graduates. They were all terminated from the nursing home.

Criminal charges bear a greater standard of proof than state certification requirements and therefore require a more thorough investigation than the Department of Health investigation. The Department of Health investigated five teens, alleging four had committed abusive acts. The police investigated eight teenage women, and the county attorney brought various charges against six of them. Aside from Broitzman and Larson, the remaining four are being charged with mandated failure to report. They were juveniles at the time.

Tribune has learned that out of the six charged there were Broitzman and Larson, along with Alicia Heilmann and Morgan Walton, who are both now 18. The Tribune is seeking the identities of the other two teens.

Charges were filed after detective Debra Flatness with the Albert Lea Police Department and deputy Bob Kindler with the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office headed up the investigation. Law enforcement authorities received initial notice of suspected abuse of elderly at the nursing home on May 1, according to court papers. The residents suffered from mental degradation conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Present during some of the investigation interviews were employees of Good Samaritan Society and a special investigator for the Minnesota Department of Health, court papers state. The investigation focused on a group of young part-time nursing assistants, some of who were allegedly directly involved in the abuse and some who knew or observed the abuse but had failed to report it.

Court papers state that during interviews Broitzman admitted that she and Larson had poked a resident in the breast. She also stated that numerous videos and photos had been taken of residents between January and April, according to the court papers.

During interviews, Larson admitted to actions such as spitting water on a resident, lying in bed with a resident, touching a resident on the buttocks, inserting her finger into a resident’s rectum, antagonizing a resident, humping a resident and putting her hand over a resident’s mouth because that resident would scream, court papers state.

Others interviewed said they began talking among themselves about what was taking place in the nursing home after Jan. 1, according to the papers. They stated Broitzman and Larson spanked a resident, teased a resident and poked residents in the genitals.

One stated Broitzman put her bare rear end in one resident’s face and that Larson would rub vigorously on residents’ genital areas to sexually arouse them.

The abusive activity was confined to certain residents, that person stated.

Another interviewed stated that Broitzman and Larson “spit into a resident’s mouth because they were upset that the resident was drooling all over,” according to the report. She said Broitzman and Larson would inappropriately touch residents’ genitals and breasts to make them angry.

Broitzman and Larson face one year in jail and/or a payment of a fine of not more than $3,000 for each of the fifth-degree assault counts; not more than one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine for each of the criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult counts; one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine for each of the disorderly conduct counts; and 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for the mandated failure to report counts.