Editorial: Patience needed in the Good Sam case

Published 8:30 am Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some folks in Albert Lea area are clamoring for Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson to hurry up and deliver charges against the young women at the center of the controversy of alleged elder abuse at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home.

They are absolutely wrong.

If these people want justice, they should allow Nelson the necessary time to build a case before determining charges. He has to consider what the defense lawyers will argue, and this case is unlike most.

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In most cases, victims can testify to what happened. In this case, the alleged victims suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and cannot. Even if some hinted beforehand what was going on, they would be unable to testify in open court.

In many cases, there are clear witnesses. In this case, other employees did not see firsthand what happened, and nearly everything is based on what the teenagers have told each other or told others.

Frequently, when one person touches another, it is easy to establish a reason for inappropriateness. At nursing homes, it is not uncommon for nurses to touch the residents. They sometimes even need to hold them down. Naturally, people know when a line of what’s inappropriate is crossed, but it will be difficult to argue that line in court when facing defense lawyers.

We adamantly agree charges need to be brought in this case. The allegations are severe. The reported abuse is sad and disappointing. It angers any normal person. We all have loved ones in nursing homes and rely on trustworthy care just like the families of the alleged victims did.

By the same token, we oppose a rush to justice because that could damage the greater goal of proper justice — what the people of the Albert Lea area should really want.