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Nursing Home Resident Says She Was Raped by Aide : Investigation: The police inquiry is the second of its kind at Tustin Manor in the last 16 months.

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Police are investigating an allegation of sexual assault in which a frail resident of Tustin Manor nursing home says she was raped there earlier this month. It is the second rape investigation at the nursing home in the last 16 months.

The woman, who has a fatal nervous system disorder and weighs less than 100 pounds, said in an interview this week that a male aide who was supposed to give her a shower placed her on the sink in her bathroom and raped her. The woman said she has not seen her alleged attacker since then.

Nursing home officials notified regulators and the Police Department and invited a counselor from a rape crisis center to talk to employees and residents at the home, but declined to make public any details of the alleged incident.

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Nursing home officials also declined to say anything about a suspect or his employment status at the facility.

“All I can tell you at this time is that an accusation has been made, the proper authorities were notified and an investigation is going on,” said Jennie Subnick, administrator of Tustin Manor. “I really can’t release any other information. We’ve been in business since 1975, and we have a fairly good reputation. When accusations are made, we always follow through and report to the appropriate agencies.”

Earlier this year, a former Tustin Manor employee was convicted of forcible rape and related charges, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jane Shade, who prosecuted the case. Lui Lautoa, 37, of Westminster was sentenced to 24 years in prison, Shade said.

The state has received three “patient-care” complaints about Tustin Manor in the last two years, including the two sexual assault complaints, but the home has not been cited, said Jackie Lincer, district administrator for the state Department of Health Services division of licensing and certification.

Lincer said the department determined that nursing home administrators had followed proper procedure in screening employees and doing evaluations. “The facility has really a pretty good record with us,” Lincer said.

Following the alleged attack on Aug. 4, Tustin Manor administrator Subnick called a rape crisis center, and a counselor went to the nursing home to talk to employees and residents, according to residents and officials at the rape crisis center.

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Marie Moore, executive director of the Orange County Sexual Assault Network, and Elizabeth West, the volunteer who went to the home, praised Subnick for taking what they said is a very positive step.

“We were really well-received and really welcome,” West said. “They wanted us to stress that anyone could come and talk to them. . . . I have never seen such openness and willingness to deal with allegations.”

Sexual assaults might be under-reported at nursing homes, because elderly people’s complaints are sometimes overlooked and they may have difficulty discussing sex, particularly violent sex, Moore said.

The woman who made the rape allegation is a six-year resident of the nursing home who suffers from Huntington’s disease, a hereditary nervous system disorder that destroys brain cells and causes involuntary body movements, mental disturbances and eventual death.

She said she told no one about the alleged incident until three days later when her husband came to visit.

“He took me to lunch at Spires, and I told him,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. After repeating the story to the nursing home administrator and the police, she was taken to a hospital for a rape examination.

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The woman’s husband said he is angry at himself because he did not visit that day as usual since he was out of town. “And then there is the anger at the thought of someone preying on someone who is so helpless. In Huntington’s disease, you can’t make your limbs move the way you want them to,” he said. “One of the ways she has manifested the disease is that when she gets emotional, she just freezes up, so she would have been absolutely helpless.”

Although Huntington’s disease does cause memory loss, the woman’s husband said she is childlike and unsophisticated but not confused. The two have developed something akin to a parent-child relationship, which, he said, explains why she waited to say anything. “It’s like she was waiting for her parent to show up,” he explained.

The time lag between the alleged incident and its reporting makes the investigation more difficult, and police are waiting for laboratory results, Tustin Police Lt. Houston Williams said. Police have an alleged suspect, who denies he raped the woman, Williams said.

“We’re dealing with a very delicate type of situation here,” Williams said. “You’re dealing with a high degree of human emotion. First of all, rape is an emotional issue, but then to have an allegation of rape by an employee on a helpless victim is very sensitive.”

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