An elderly woman in Minnesota is seeking punitive damages against a nursing home that placed her in a mental health facility and protected her attacker after she was raped.
According to court documents obtained by the Star Tribune, Edgewood Vista senior living facility forced the 89-year-old woman to spend 72 hours in the mental health unit of St. Luke’s Hospital near Duluth after she reported that 30-year-old Andrew Scott Merzwski had raped her in her bed at the senior home.
The woman said that Merzwski had entered her room as she preparing for bed. After she invited him to watch a movie, he started taking off his clothes.
“It’s not right, this wouldn’t be right,” the woman reportedly told Merzwski, pointing to a photo of her husband.
After the victim's daughter notified police, Merzwski admitted that he had sex with the 89-year-old woman.
About that same time, the nursing home transferred the woman to a psychiatric ward at St. Luke’s Hospital for nearly three days.
"The room she was in was dark and cold … and they locked her in at night and all she had was a blanket," nurse examiner Theresa Flesvig said in the court documents.
When Flesvig was finally able to examine the victim, she found the “biggest tear” as a result of rape that she had ever seen in her career.
Testimony filed with the court said that the nursing home's clinical services director, Marilyn Moore, tried to defend that rapist after he had confessed to police.
“Did she tell you that this was consensual?" Moore asked Flesvig. "Did she tell you that she flirts with this boy mercilessly?”
Moore later allegedly told sexual assault advocate Mary Salisbury that the victim was “was making it up," and described her as a "flirt."
“I was just shocked that somebody was so blatantly putting the blame on this woman,” Flesvig noted.
Merzwski was sentenced to 53 months in prison ordered to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years. The Health Department cited the nursing home for failing to immediately report the rape, but concluded that the Merzwski was solely responsible for the victim's maltreatment.