Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Bristol Township man held for trial in alleged sex act with 93-year-old woman
Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015
A 93-year-old woman was diagnosed five years ago with dementia, yet she still converses about fashion, clothes and shoes. If asked, she’ll tell nursing home staff when her dinner was good and when it wasn’t. She recognizes her children, but not her grandchildren. She doesn’t know what year it is either.
But can she consent to a sex act?
A defense attorney argued that prosecutors failed to prove the woman didn’t agree to perform oral sex on Christopher Frederici, a 41-year-old former nursing aide accused of sexually assaulting the elderly resident in April then threatening a coworker who allegedly caught him in the act.
At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Frederici’s co-worker at Silver Lake Nursing Home and Rehabilitative Center, testified that she saw him engaged in the sex act with the resident.
The nurse’s aide, who was assigned to care for the resident, testified that she had checked on the woman twice earlier in her shift and each time found Frederici in the woman’s room, though he was not assigned to her care. Frederici claimed he was watching TV with the woman, she testified.
The third time she checked on the woman, the aide said, the door to the woman’s room was closed. When she entered and pulled back a privacy curtain around the woman’s bed, she saw the woman and Frederici sexually engaged, she told the court.
The woman said she was so shocked by what she saw that she ran into a bathroom.
The aide testified that she wanted to immediately report what she saw to her nursing supervisor, but she had only been working at Silver Lake two weeks and didn’t have any proof, other than her word. Instead, she decided to confront Frederici in an attempt to get evidence, she said.
“I told him I saw everything. I saw what you did to her,” the aide said, adding she made him promise never to do it again.
“He said, ‘Never more I promise,’ ” she testified.
But later, Frederici confronted the aide outside the center and said he hoped she wasn’t going to say anything about what she saw.
“I’ve been here a long time and no one will believe you,” the woman said Frederici told her. He also allegedly threatened her, dragging his index finger across his throat.
The gesture scared her into silence, she said. But after several weeks, she said she simply could no longer keep her secret.
“I just couldn’t keep it anymore,” the aide said, as she broke into tears. “I just didn’t want to keep it anymore.”
On cross examination, the aide testified that that woman sometimes could understand and respond when she was asked questions, but that, in her opinion “she is a person who is confused.”
The woman’s daughter testified that her mother, who has lived at the nursing home since 2013, is in good physical health, although she was diagnosed in 2010 and 2012 with dementia and cognitive impairment.
She added that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation took away her mother’s driver’s license in 2010 for cognitive impairment.
But defense attorney John Fiorvanti Jr. argued that prosecutors didn’t provide any medical evidence that the woman did not have the ability to consent to sex. He added that testimony from the woman’s daughter and the aide suggested that she is able to communicate.
Prosecutor Matt Lannetti countered that he didn’t need to present medical evidence beyond a diagnosis. He also repeated a story the woman’s daughter told about how her mother recently asked her how feces got into her adult diaper.
“She can’t possibly consent,” Lannetti added.
District Judge Joanne Kline agreed and held Frederici for trial on all charges, including rape of a mentally disabled person, indecent sexual assault of a person with a mental disability, and related sex crimes as well as felony witness intimidation. The charge of rape includes oral sex when a victim is mentally challenged.
Frederici is free after posting 10 percent of his $75,000 bail. He no longer works at Silver Lake Nursing Center.