DULUTH — A staff member at the Wesley Residence in Duluth sexually abused a resident this summer, according to an investigation from the state health department.
The investigation, released this week, found substantiated abuse and that the staff member was responsible for maltreatment as a result of the incident. The staff member is no longer employed at the facility, which offers assisted living for aging adults and people with disabilities.
The report did not say who the employee was or if criminal charges were filed.
Wesley follows all training requirements and offers training on professional boundaries and monthly orientations, said Maria Runyan, executive director of the AHL Healthcare Group that manages the Duluth facility. Once Wesley learned of the incident, Runyan said it was reported to the state health department.
An investigation done by the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaints included interviews with staff and the resident as well as reviews of medical records, employee records and facility policies.
Resident medical records show the resident managed daily activities independently, but needed help with medication and public transportation. He was allowed to leave the facility, which a physician had approved.
It was found that the resident rode a bus with the staff member to her apartment, where the abuse occurred. Then, the staff member paid for a cab to take the resident back to Wesley, according to the investigation.
Runyan described the relationship as consensual. The resident was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and hearing loss. His abuse prevention plan indicated that he was at risk of being abused, the investigation said.
The resident said he and the staff member would converse through text messages and Facebook. One day before the incident, they discussed having sexual intercourse, the investigation said.
He left the facility with the staff member and both intended to have sexual intercourse, which he believed was a one-time incident. He said he knew staff and residents can't be sexually involved, but thought it was OK as it did not happen within the facility, according to the investigation.
Under Minnesota law, a person classified as a vulnerable adult cannot offer legal consent.
Upon learning of the incident, the facility placed the staff member on administrative leave, but she failed to participate in an interview with the facility.
In a later interview with this staff member, she denied having a relationship with the resident or engaging in sexual contact, the investigation said.
The resident had told another staff member that he had sexual intercourse with the staff member. This staff member failed to report it to anyone, as she didn't believe the resident, she said in one interview. Later, in another interview, this staff member also said she didn't report it because she didn't want to lose her friendship with the other staff member.
"Unfortunately, that was a very serious violation of our training and our expectations," Runyon said, adding that this employee is no longer employed at Wesley.
The incident, to Runyan, highlights the importance of mandated reporters, she said.
"Every employee in the health care field has a responsibility to report things that don't seem right," she said. "It's not their job to determine whether something is or isn't happening, just their job to report if something is suspicious."