FEBRUARY 23, 1998 VOLUME 5, NUMBER 34
A Las Vegas, Nevada, adult care home operator was arrested last week on elder abuse charges. Christopher Michael Childers was charged with elder abuse, elder neglect and criminal neglect of a patient with substantial bodily harm.
The arrest was made by officers attached to the Las Vegas Police Department’s Abuse and Neglect Detail. That agency had conducted a three-week investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect.
Childers is the owner and operator of Desert Palms adult care facility in Las Vegas. According to investigators, the home provided care for ten residents, although it is licensed for only six residents under Nevada state law.
One of the home’s residents suffered from serious bedsores, according to the police report. The bedsores required prolonged hospitalization and surgical intervention, and resulted in permanent scarring.
Last week, police investigators also determined that two other residents of Desert Palms had been grabbed, pushed and shoved by Childers. One sustained bruising on his wrist.
Other residents told investigators that they were required to remain in their rooms at all times except during meals. They reported being afraid that they would be punished if they left their rooms without permission, and that residents were isolated from one another.
Childers’ attorney responded to reports of the investigation by pointing out that Childers and his family have been operating adult care homes in northern Nevada for more than a decade. He challenged the claim that Childers had more than the allowed six residents by asserting that there were fewer than six who required any assistance; according to the attorney, the other residents were “completely able to care for themselves.”
Childers’ attorney also claims that the investigation was motivated by anger that the boarding home operator had testified in support of another care home operator who was charged with failing to secure the proper license. In that case, the care home operator was apparently acquitted; Childers’ attorney represented the care home operator in the earlier case, and claims that the current investigation was begun in retaliation for Childers’ testimony.
State laws on elder abuse vary widely. In Arizona, the allegations against Childers could also have led to criminal charges for elder abuse and elder neglect. In addition, Arizona law provides for a special civil cause of action. Childers’ residents could bring a lawsuit against him for recovery of their actual damages (including, for example, medical costs and pain and suffering) plus up to three times the amount of those damages.
Arizona law also imposes a duty on caretakers, social workers and others to report instances of abuse or neglect. Such reports must be made to the Adult Protective Services office for the county in which the incidents occurred, or to the local police department or sheriff’s office.