Cops: Family's hidden camera recorded abuse of woman, 90

Posted: August 20, 2014

THE TINY cameras are disguised as alarm clocks, teddy bears and cereal boxes, designed to keep an eye on the people baby-sitting children or caring for elderly loved ones.

Members of one Bucks County family, according to police, had suspected that Ruth Reed, 90, a relative with Alzheimer's disease, was being mistreated at an assisted-living facility. So they bought a "nanny cam" a year ago and moved her to a facility in Yardley.

For 10 months, everything at the Arden Courts residential assisted-living facility on Stony Hill Road was fine, police said. But two months ago, Reed's daughter noticed a bruise on her mother's head - and, later, bruising near her left eye.

Nine days ago, according to a court document, Reed's granddaughter saw bruises on Reed's hands and face. That's when the camera inside the clock radio in her room confirmed the family's worst fears.

"The slap was so hard that it was clearly heard on the video," Lower Makefield Township police said in the document, an affidavit of probable cause to arrest her caregiver.

Police charged Baindu Kromah, 36, of Northeast Philadelphia, a caregiver at the Yardley facility, with neglect of a caregiver-dependent person and simple assault. Cops alleged that Kromah was violent with Reed, tearing off her diapers forcefully, yanking her legs out of the bed and slapping her across the face. Kromah ignored Reed's cries and pleas for help, according to the document.

"Mrs. Reed is heard on the video screaming out in pain and crying," police said in the document.

Kromah, according to the document, had been working the weekend night shift at the facility since October, and told police that Reed was fighting her, but investigators found no evidence of that in the videos. Kromah was released on bail and is scheduled for a court appearance on Aug. 27. Neither Kromah nor her lawyer returned calls seeking comment yesterday.

A relative of Reed's declined to comment when reached at home yesterday.

Sgt. Brian Omlor, a Lower Makefield police detective, said the investigation "was initiated by the family."

Kelly Kessler, a spokeswoman for Arden Courts, said that background checks are done on all employees. She said that Arden Courts had worked with law enforcement on the case and had immediately suspended Kromah.

According to its website, Arden Courts specializes in dementia and Alzheimer's care and has locations throughout the country, including several in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

A 2007 Inquirer investigation found that an Arden Courts facility in Monroeville, outside Pittsburgh, had a history of allegations including the sexual assault of a patient by a minister who worked as a caregiver there, more than a dozen cases of patient-on-patient violence and three alleged instances of abuse by staff.

In 2010, Rita Ellinger, 85, was killed by a fellow patient about whom her family said she had complained at an Arden Courts facility in Whippany, Morris County, N.J., the Associated Press reported.

In March, Lawrence Bollettini, 87, died of hypothermia after he was found outside an Arden Courts facility in Cherry Hill, where he was a resident.

On Twitter: @JasonNark

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