The operator of a seniors’ apartment complex in New Hope has been cited for neglect in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a vulnerable resident who is blind and suffered from mental health problems, according to a state investigation released Tuesday.
The woman, who is not identified in the report, alleges that she was coerced into sex on multiple occasions by a male resident at North Park Plaza, a low-income seniors’ complex with 105 units that is operated by the Volunteers of America, a nonprofit agency.
A physician who examined the woman found injuries consistent with sexual assault, the report said.
The Minnesota Department of Health, which investigated the case early this year, concluded that Volunteers of America failed to complete updated individual abuse-prevention plans for both residents, as required under Minnesota’s vulnerable adult statute. The mandated plans include assessment of a vulnerable adult’s susceptibility to abuse, as well as the person’s risk of abusing others.
The woman who reported the abuse had been diagnosed with blindness at birth and had multiple mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, the report said. “The facility neglected to identify and minimize the risk of abuse,” investigators wrote in the report, which was completed in late June.
A spokesman for Volunteers of America of Minnesota and Wisconsin said it was late in filing the annual update for the residents’ abuse-prevention plans because of a staffing transition. After self-reporting the incident to state authorities, the organization immediately completed updated assessments for both residents and provided additional staff education and training.
According to the state investigation, the woman and the man had separate one-bedroom apartments on the first floor of the apartment complex. Several days before Christmas, the male resident invited the woman to his apartment to watch a video. The woman later said she fell asleep and awoke to discover that she was naked and had a bruise on her breast.
Over the next few days, the woman alleged, she had additional nonconsensual sexual encounters with the man. On the morning of Dec. 27, 2017, the woman was in the facility’s dining room when she shared information about a bruise on her breast, at one point lifting her shirt to show the bruise. The next day, the woman told a physician that she had been sexually assaulted, and the doctor identified a “purplish-red bruise” on her breast, the report said.
Although she concluded that a sexual assault had taken place, the physician noted that she could not attest that the woman was an “accurate reporter’’ and said the woman had recanted some allegations in the past.
The alleged assailant said the sex was consensual and denied any force or harm toward the woman. An internal review of the facility’s video footage shows the two residents coming and going independently from each other’s apartments several times each day.
The New Hope Police Department was notified of the incident, and no charges were filed. Both the woman and the man remain at the facility as residents.