CHISHOLM, Minn. — A state investigator has issued a finding of neglect and maltreatment against a Chisholm assisted-living facility after one client allegedly raped another.
But the lawyer for the company that owns Hillcrest Terrace of Chisholm said the findings are being appealed.
“We do not agree with many of the aspects of the report or the level of the charges,” said Jim Clark, who represents Range Development Co. “We’re confident upon reconsideration the findings are going to be substantially different.”
The report, concluded July 11 and posted by the Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday, Aug. 20, was forwarded to the Chisholm Police Department, the Chisholm city attorney and the St. Louis County attorney. Jessica Fralich, Range division head for the county attorney’s office, said the matter is being investigated by Chisholm police and she couldn’t comment further. Chisholm police investigators didn’t immediately return a call asking about the case.
The Office of Health Facility Complaints report by special investigator Rhylee Gilb doesn’t identify the individuals involved.
According to Gilb’s report, the female client who alleged she was raped had a diagnosis of severe alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. During the month before the incident, she had been drinking about 12 beers every couple of days.
The male client who allegedly raped her had a history of yelling, destroying property and impaired judgment when upset. He also “had a history of touching other clients’ private areas to provoke them.”
On the day of the alleged incident, which Clark said was June 17, the female client had been drinking in her room and had given her car keys to the house manager. At the 4 p.m. shift change, the house manager told the staffer to lock up the keys so other clients couldn’t get them. But half an hour later, the staffer gave the male client her credit card and the female client her keys so they could go to the store. That occurred again just after 6 p.m., and when they returned both clients went into the female client’s room.
Clark said the clients told the employee they wanted to buy snacks, and that she wouldn’t have given them the car keys if she’d known they were going to buy alcohol. The employee wasn’t aware that the female client had been drinking, Clark said, and the client didn’t display signs of alcohol use.
However, according to Gilb’s report, the employee related that she was aware the client had been drinking.
The female client told the investigator that after they returned the second time they were in her room and she was sitting on her bed. She said the male client struck her on the legs with a statue, pried her legs apart and raped her. She said she reported the incident to the staffer and asked her to call the police, but she was told to call the police herself.
According to the report, Chisholm police arrived about 7 that evening, collected evidence from the apartment and took the female client to the hospital for a sexual assault examination. The report doesn’t reveal the results of that exam, but does say the woman’s blood alcohol content was .158. The legal limit to drive in Minnesota is .08.
The staff member told police she had consumed five beers before coming to work. A breathalyzer test was administered at 11:23 p.m., and her blood alcohol content was .028.
Police removed the male client from the facility, the report said. Hillcrest Terrace served him with an eviction notice, and he was only allowed to return once to gather his belongings. The female client was kept in the nurses’ office during that time.
The staff member told the investigator she wasn’t allowed to withhold the client’s property.
Clark partially confirmed that, saying it was a judgment call as to whether to hold on to the keys if there were a safety concern. Otherwise, though, “Those are her keys to her car and she’s entitled to ask for them back.”
The employee said she had not been given vulnerable adult training, but her personnel file indicated that she had completed the training and received retraining two months before the incident. The staffer was placed on 90-day probation and assigned to a different facility where there always would be two staff members working, according to Gilb’s report.
The staff member has since left the company, Clark said.
The investigator faulted the staffer, but also faulted the facility for not supervising the staffer and not providing retraining after the incident.
Clark said it’s up to the police to determine whether a crime occurred, but that it’s not the facility’s responsibility.
“In that facility, those people are basically just renting a room,” he said. “And they certainly have the ability to go between rooms and have whatever kind of contact they want with each other. … Whether there was a rape that took place or whether there was consensual sex, we have no idea.”