An 89-year-old woman is suing a Minnesota nursing home for punitive damages because she was forced to spend 72 hours in a mental health unit after she reported that she was raped by 30-year-old Andrew Scott Merzwski. According to court documents, the woman was a resident at Edgewood Vista senior living facility near Duluth the night that Merzwski entered her room as she was preparing for bed and began taking off his clothes when she invited him to stay and watch a movie. Though she refused his advances, Merzwski later admitted to having sex with her after the victim’s daughter called the police. Merzwski was eventually sentenced to 53 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years.
But the remaining issue is Edgewood Vista’s egregious mishandling of the crime, which included not only failing to report the crime to police immediately, but mistreating the victim. After the elderly victim reported the rape, Edgewood Vista responded by sending her to a psychiatric ward at St. Luke’s Hospital for nearly three days, where, according to the nurse who eventually examined her, she was locked in a cold room with nothing but a blanket. When nurse examiner Theresa Flesvig finally was able to do a physical examination, she found the “biggest tear” as a result of rape that she had ever seen in her career.
Meanwhile, court testimony shows that the nursing home’s clinical services director, Marilyn Moore, repeatedly tried to defend Merzwski, even after he had confessed, saying that the victim was a “flirt,” implying that she asked for it. “Did she tell you that this was consensual?” Moore asked Flesvig. “Did she tell you that she flirts with this boy mercilessly?” Moore also told a sexual assault advocate that the victim was a “flirt” who was “making it up.” Flesvig told the court she was baffled. “I was just shocked that somebody was so blatantly putting the blame on this woman,” Flesvig she said.
While the Health Department has cited the nursing home for failing to report the crime right away, they nonetheless held Merzwski responsible for the victim’s maltreatment. Hopefully a judge will see that while Merzwski is solely responsible for the sexual assault, Edgewood Vista further victimized this woman by refusing to take her allegations seriously and essentially punishing her for reporting it in the first place. [Raw Story]