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in brief: 89-year-old woman called a ‘flirt’ after being raped by nursing home staff

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An 89-year-old woman from Edgewood nursing home in Minnesota has been through a horrifying ordeal after being raped by one of her carers. Her nursing assistant, Andrew Scott Merzwski, sexually assaulted the woman after giving her narcotics that he knew would render her mentally incapacitated.

The victim notified her daughter the next morning, who then contacted the police. But rather than supporting the woman and her family, they sent her to a psychiatric ward where she was kept in solitude for three days. Investigators tried to determine the validity of her story, and nursing home administrators called the woman a liar and a ‘flirt.’ However, according to court documents, Merzwski had already admitted to the crime.

Despite knowing this, the director of clinical services at Edgewood, continued to defend the attacker.

‘Did [the victim] tell you this was consensual? Did she tell you that she flirts with the boy mercilessly?’ she said to Teresa Flesvig, a nurse examiner at the hospital.

In addition to being blamed, the conditions the victim was subjected to would be distressing for anybody, let alone someone suffering both emotional and physical trauma.

‘The room she was in was dark and cold… and they locked her in at night and all she had was a blanket,’ Flesvig said in a court testament.

When the victim was finally allowed to leave the hospital – five days after her assault – she was given an examination. Flesvig said that she had the ‘biggest tear’ she had seen in her six years in the field. According to the police report:

‘The victim said that she hadn’t had sex for eight years and she felt like it hurt because she was essentially a virgin again and that she had never planned on having sex again.’

After calling the victim a liar, omitting details about her attacker admitting to the crime and locking her in solitude for three days, authorities sent the woman back to Edgewood where she was expected to continue staying in the room she was attacked in. The woman was so distressed that she attempted to barricade her door to keep out staff.

However, the nursing home stressed that only one employee was responsible for the attack. But new evidence shows that Edgewood employees intentionally impeded the investigation.

Merzwski has been sentenced to one year and one month in prison. The victim hopes to see justice in her new lawsuit against the nursing home that was supposed to be protecting her.

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