A male nursing aide who raped an 83-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison during an emotional hearing in Hennepin County District Court.
Seven days before Christmas last year, George Sumo Kpingbah, 77, was seen moving in a “back and forth, thrusting motion” while standing at the edge of the elderly woman’s bed at Walker Methodist Health Center in south Minneapolis, according to a state investigation. Kpingbah pleaded guilty in September to third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In powerful courtroom testimony on Thursday, the woman’s daughter spoke of her mother and her family’s trauma and urged the judge to show no mercy.
“Now and for the rest of my life, when I think of my mother at Christmastime, or when my mother passes and I reflect on the final years of her life, I will have tattooed on my brain the knee-buckling shock of getting that call … letting me know that my mother had been raped,” Maya Fischer said.
Hennepin County District Judge Elizabeth Cutter sentenced Kpingbah to a year more than prosecutors sought. She referred to the rape as “extremely devastating” to the family and said it warranted the maximum possible sentence in part because Kpingbah had “violated a position of trust” at the nursing home.
“This [rape] affects everyone who has to place a loved one in a facility,” Cutter said.
On hearing the judge’s sentence, relatives of the rape survivor grabbed one another in bear hugs and began crying. “All we ever wanted was for justice to be served,” Fischer said.
Kpingbah clutched a small Bible during the hearing and apologized to the court. “I would just say to the family … and to everyone affected by my actions that I am sorry, I am sorry,” he said. He vowed to take his Bible to prison. Members of his church occupied nearly half the courtroom.
Urging the judge for leniency, Kpingbah’s attorney said his client had fled violence in Liberia and had devoted much of his life to ensuring that his three daughters migrated to America. “There is no rational basis to explain [the rape],” said his court-appointed attorney, Joseph Kaminsky. “It was an unspeakable act.”
Kpingbah also has agreed to an unusual settlement in a separate lawsuit. In that case, Kpingbah has agreed to pay $15 million to the estate of the rape survivor if he is ever convicted again of criminal sexual conduct in any other case, or is ever found liable again for the abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult.
While substantiated cases of rape in Minnesota senior homes are extremely rare, the state has seen a sharp increase in incidents of abuse and neglect. The number of maltreatment complaints received by the Minnesota Department of Health nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 283 to 553, state records show.