SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista Police Department is investigating a claim by a 91-year-old woman who said she was raped while staying at Life Care Center, police officials said earlier this week.
Police Chief Adam Thrasher and Detective Thomas Ransford both said they are waiting for the results of a rape kit that was sent to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s lab in May after the woman’s son filed a police report about the alleged attack in late April.
“The complaint came in as a sexual assault and that’s what we’re investigating,” Ransford said Tuesday.
Thrasher said he can’t release the police report for now because the investigation is open and active.
But the woman’s son, who lives in Hereford, spoke to the Herald/Review by phone and recounted what he told police. The man’s name is not being published to protect the identity of a potential victim of sexual assault or abuse.
The son, who is 68, said he went to see his mother at Life Care Center, 2305 E. Wilcox Dr., one day in late April and she was “very agitated.” On April 26, the son said, officials at the facility called him and his wife.
“They said my mom was complaining that she had been raped,” the son said. “My mother has some dementia, but over the next three days (following the call from Life Care Center) she told the same, consistent story to investigators.
“She said she was pulled from her wheelchair and dragged. She said the area where it happened was dark. She could not describe the person because it was dark.”
The son said he complained to the director of Life Care Center and he said she told him that his mother had a urinary tract infection.
The son said injuries his mother sustained were not commensurate with an infection. Det. Ransford said he could not comment on any possible injuries the woman may have sustained.
But in an email to the woman’s son that the son provided to the Herald/Review, the detective also disagreed the injuries stemmed from an illness.
“There is no doubt in my mind the injuries to your mother are a result of physical force as opposed to any medical condition,” Ransford wrote in the email. “As you mentioned there were only females working on the floor of the nursing department but I am working with HR department to obtain the physical time sheets of anybody working for the center during the entire evening. In addition I cannot rule out other patients, male or female, who may have caused the injuries.”
Life Care Center Director Corrie Killingsworth said she could not discuss the case because it’s under investigation. She emailed a statement to the Herald/Review.
“At Life Care Center of Sierra Vista, residents are our highest priority. There is an ongoing investigation related to an allegation from a previous resident in our facility. All allegations are taken seriously and reported to appropriate authorities and state agencies,” the statement reads.
“Due to HIPAA regulations and respect for patient privacy, we are unable to discuss any specific details of a resident’s stay in our facility. I have an open-door policy and encourage residents or family members with concerns to speak with me. As always, we continue to focus on providing compassionate healthcare services to our residents.”
Besides filing a report with Sierra Vista Police, the son also contacted the state’s Department of Economic Security. He said he has been communicating with an investigator with the agency’s Adult Protective Services division. The investigator, Rich Richards, told the Haerald/Review that he could not discuss the case and whether he was even involved in such a matter.
Both Ransford and Thrasher said the investigation is difficult because there were no witnesses and the woman could not describe her attacker. The chief said that because there is a backlog of rape kits at the state lab, priority is given to rape cases where the suspect is identified or known to the victim.
The son said he moved his mother to another facility on Sept. 1.