- Associated Press - Saturday, January 26, 2019

HILL CITY, Minn. (AP) - A 58-year-old man with dementia living in a northern Minnesota care center died from bleeding in the brain several weeks after he was repeatedly punched in the face by one staff member while another staff member held him down in his wheelchair, a state investigation shows.

The Star Tribune reported Saturday that investigators accuse managers at Chappy’s Golden Shores in Hill City of keeping Steven G. Nelson’s alleged assault under wraps and failing to report it as required by state law. The investigation report does not say when the incident happened or when Nelson died.

Police in Hill City, located 80 miles (about 130 kilometers) west of Duluth, and the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation this past week and may expand it based on reports of 10 other incidents of maltreatment at the facility, which was closed after state regulators suspended its license. Nelson’s relatives want the case investigated as a possible homicide.

Tricia Olson, owner of Chappy’s Golden Shores, denied an assault occurred and said the state’s findings are based on false statements made by disgruntled former employees. State investigators, she said, failed to interview the alleged perpetrator and other key employees.

“One hundred percent, this never happened,” Olson said.

Nelson had cognitive disabilities and used a wheelchair. Investigators concluded that one staff member repeatedly punched him in the face, while another held him down and a third employee watched but did not intervene. Nelson attempted to defend himself, but was unable to do so because of his disability.

A doctor had attributed the death to natural causes due to non-traumatic brain bleed, but told investigators that had he known about the abuse it would have “definitely affected the findings.” The doctor said there was a potential the trauma was related to Nelson’s death.

A message left Saturday with the office of Aitkin County attorney Jim Ratz was not returned.

The report is just the latest in a string of maltreatment findings against Chappy’s Golden Shores stemming from visits by state investigators in November. In one case, a resident suffering from Parkinson’s disease and anxiety was subjected to a torrent of physical and emotional abuse, including being hit with a frying pan, when he sought to leave the facility, investigators said.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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