New developments have been uncovered in an ongoing abuse investigation at a Leon County Assisted Living Facility. A former supervisor and caregiver at Ruth Marie's Country Home in Jewett was caught on camera abusing an elderly disabled man. And a warning -- the contents and nature of the video may be disturbing.
The sounds are unsettling to hear -- but the sight -- is what's even more heart wrenching and absolutely revolting to see.
"Here you can see he's forced the patient to the ground,” said Leon County Sheriff’s Investigator, Victor Smith while viewing the cell phone footage of the abuse on his computer.
This is the reality -- and proof of just one of at least ten abuse cases that are being investigated by the state at Paramount Care facilities -- formerly known as the Ruth Marie’s Country Home's in Leon, Freestone and Limestone counties.
The “day-hab” on Merryweather Street in Jewett is where the alleged abuse unfolded.
“They [patients] appear to be sitting in a day room with their heads down; I don't know if their heads were down because they were told, or they just didn't want to see what was happening. But it's very disturbing,” said Smith. “It's an absolute betrayal of trust and what's really sad is the victim in this video couldn't choose the way that he was born; but we can choose the people who take care of him and we put trust in those people. And in this particular instance, for whatever reason, the caregiver either lost his cool or he just maliciously took advantage of the person and assaulted him."
In the cell phone footage, Lewis is blatantly ignoring the victim’s plea for help; throughout the footage, Lewis can be seen laughing at the helpless man. He grabbed the disabled patient by his hair and then forced him by his hair onto the floor where he then blatantly steps on his chest.
Lewis, a former caregiver and supervisor at Ruth Marie's Country Home in both Leon and Limestone County has been arrested on charges of injury to an elderly or disabled individual.
Authorities say a female employee grabbed her cell phone and recorded Kevin Lewis abusing the patient. Smith says she subsequently turned in the footage to the Paramount Care provider, Gail Champagne.
"That staff member said she did it as a form of documentation about what Mr. Lewis may have done to other patients throughout the course of his duties, or employment there and, she in return, turned it in to Adult Protective Services.”
APS contacted the Leon County Sheriff's Office for assistance. Once a positive ID was made, a warrant was issued for Kevin Lewis' arrest. Smith contacted Lewis' family where he says Lewis consequently turned himself in to authorities in Limestone County.
Leon County Lead Investigator Victor Smith says the video was turned in at least two days after the assault took place -- which means the victim went several days without ever receiving medical attention for any potential injuries. Lewis was arrested for abuse of an elderly and disabled individual; he was released on $5,000 bond.
“From our investigation, these individuals are all disabled,” said Victor. “They’re helpless and can’t be taken care of at home, so they’re at Ruth Marie’s, or now, it’s called Paramount Care, and they’re supposed to be receiving care here. It’s so disturbing. You know, in my personal life, I've had to put a lot of trust in someone for a family member and it's something that took a lot of thought. And I hope he was never treated that way."
The victim, believed to be in his late 50's, was transported to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. It's unclear whether or not those injuries were a direct result of the abuse caught on camera.
At the end of August, the state terminated former owner, James Simpson's certificate to provide services at Ruth Marie's Country Home in Region 7; which includes Leon, Limestone and Freestone Counties. His alleged girlfriend, Gail Champagne subsequently took over as the new provider: Paramount Care. Not even two months into her leadership, the state terminated right to provide services in Region 7.
All 44 patients, including the victim -- have been transferred out of the facility.
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