MANNFORD, Okla. (KTUL) – At least one caretaker has been arrested on multiple counts of abuse and sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult in Mannford.
Police say they plan several additional arrests.
Police have identified seven victims at the Cimarron Pointe Care Center.
The suspects allegedly discussed the abuse via text messages that included nude photos, according to an arrest affidavit.
One man, Senite Alexander Smith, has been arrested on multiple counts of abuse and sexual exploitation.
Cimarron Pointe Care Center told Tulsa’s Channel 8 that the workers suspected in the abuse have been fired. The nursing home’s full statement is below, but here's a portion:
"We do not exist for the sake of employees. We exist for the sake of our residents who are dependent on us for care. We have total disdain not only for those who perpetrate such acts but also for those who are compelled to protect anyone who does."
Creek County prosecutors alerted Mannford police that the abuse had been reported, and investigators interviewed a woman who had photos of the abuse.
She told police she was given a cellphone from her ex-boyfriend several months earlier for her to use and keep as a spare phone. She was looking through the phone recently and found messages from the suspect, Smith, that she believed showed the abuse.
Smith allegedly sent a text message with a lewd joke and a photo of a nude male patient.
Another text apparently shows an injured patient with Smith and indications that Smith had pushed the man in the shower.
The text messages appear to have been sent between March and July.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services received an anonymous email tip about the incident from another woman on May 20. In the email, the woman said she'd seen some unsettling messages from workers at the nursing home and identified them.
Investigators went to the nursing home and informed them of the investigation, and they obtained contact information for the suspects.
Smith identified himself to police as a certified nursing assistant employed at Cimarron Pointe Care Center for the past year. He said he'd sometimes slap the hands of a patient and slapped a resident in the face out of frustration at least five times in the last year, but not hard enough to leave marks, according to the affidavit. Smith told police he pulled one resident's clothes roughly while trying to clean her.
He denied pushing a man, as one of his alleged texts indicates, saying he was attempting to be "edgy" and that the resident had actually fallen in his room and cut his head open. Smith said he reported the "fall" as an incident.
When investigators asked Smith about the photo with the nude elderly man, he said he didn't know why he took the picture.
Police asked Smith about alleged abuse he'd seen his friend commit at the facility. Smith described the other worker as "sadistic" and that he was rough with residents for no reason, adding that he saw him put a resident in the shower and intentionally run cold water on her even after she yelled. He reported that he'd seen the man slap people in the face at the center. He said he heard the worker had stolen 30 milligrams of morphine pills from a patient more than once, but that he didn't report it because they're friends.
Smith will be booked into the Creek County Jail.
Adult Protective Services released the following statement:
“This is a heartbreaking case. Adult Protective Services (APS) case records are confidential by law. APS is not legally required to notify law enforcement when an APS investigation in a long term care facility begins; however, APS reports the results of its investigations to the local District Attorney who determines whether or not charges would be filed in a particular case.”
Below is the full statement released Friday by Cimarron Pointe Care Center:
Yesterday afternoon, September 5, 2019, I received a call from the Administrator of Cimarron Pointe Care Center in Mannford relating to me specific allegations of abuse by members of the Cimarron Pointe Care Center clinical staff. These specific allegations were provided to her by Lucky Miller, Chief of Police of Mannford, Oklahoma.
Chief Miller is an excellent administrative and investigative officer and has worked closely with the Nursing Facility on many occasions. He and his staff are quick to respond, capable, professional, efficient and very diligent in their efforts to protect the people of the Mannford community.
At the request of Chief Miller, we were immediately very cautious about divulging this new information. Chief Miller was attempting to arrest those responsible and did not want “word” of the events being spread to those who he was attempting to arrest. He was concerned that they may flee and make apprehension a difficult task. We cooperated and even attempted to lure those suspected to the building so they could be taken into Chief Miller’s custody.
When Chief Miller contacted us yesterday with these horrific allegations, we immediately dropped everything we were doing and went to work to with the new knowledge we gained from Chief Miller and began all of the preparation need to perform evaluation and interviews of residents, interviews of staff and assisting Chief Miller in finding those who are responsible for the abuse committed against our residents.
None of those staff members who perpetrated these criminal and sick acts of abuse against our residents were on duty at the time. We checked to see when they were on the schedule and made arrangements to have their shifts covered by other members of our staff. We communicated their shift times and scheduled work dates to Chief Miller to assist in their apprehension. We handled each of the individuals responsible differently in order to assure that they would never be back in the building where our residents live. At this point in time they are all aware that they have been terminated and have been instructed not to return to the building.
Within two hours of learning of the specific allegations of abuse, we reported the allegations to the Department of Human Services and to the Adult Protective Services. We immediately began reinforcing common sense values, reporting duties and other obligations that staff owe to residents of our building through a process known as “inservice.” All employees will be inserviced as they report for their shifts.
Simultaneously, through interviews of our staff, we are determining if there are other members of our staff who knew of any of these atrocious acts against our residents. We have an absolute “zero tolerance” rule. Those health care providers who know or even hear of such acts and fail to report what they know or have heard are immediately terminated and reported to the State of Oklahoma.
We do not exist for the sake of employees. We exist for the sake of our residents who are dependent on us for care. We have total disdain not only for those who perpetrate such acts but also for those who are compelled to protect anyone who does.
We know that three of the four employees who have been terminated as a result of these acts of abuse are from Mannford. In each instance these people were hired by following a very strict hiring process. The State of Oklahoma has enacted, in an effort to curtail a deeply concerning trend of nursing home abuse, a very strict hiring process that involves background checks and fingerprinting. We zealously follow the protocol and endorse it as our own policy to keep abuse perpetrators out of our buildings. Nothing in the “prehire” history of these individuals suggested that they were a potential threat to our residents.
Myself and the administrative team at Mannford and the Home Office staff are sickened and in some instances physically affected by the knowledge of these twisted and indifferent acts by members of our staff. Of the four persons accused, three were employed by us as late as yesterday afternoon. The fourth employee was terminated sometime ago for speaking harshly and profanely to a resident. There have been no complaints about the remaining three employees who are involved and who were terminated yesterday. As indicated, above, one of those three has been arrested and the other two are to our knowledge still at large.
When being advised of these allegations of abuse, the reaction has been one of complete shock. We are told by local administrative staff that there were no indications of what has now been “brought to light.” It reminds all of us that we can never accept at face value the purported good intentions of employees who work with our residents. It reminds us that we cannot even accept the high standards imposed by the State and readily adopted by us in the hiring process. It is disappointing to know that these “kind” of sick, calloused people exist in our communities but the harsh reality is that they do.
As a result of this event, we will be more vigilant and more protective and will install new protocol in an effort to prevent acts such as these from ever happening again.
ConHold of Mannford, LLC,
Doing Business as Cimarron Pointe Care Center
Frank Sullivan, Jr.
LLC Manager and Owner