Broitzman pleads not guilty to elder abuse charges

Published 12:22 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twenty-year-old Brianna Broitzman on Friday pleaded not guilty in Freeborn County District Court to all charges related to alleged elder abuse at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

Her case will now be scheduled for a pre-trial and jury trial. The jury trial itself is expected to last two weeks.

Broitzman’s lawyer, Larry Maus, said he is considering filing for a change of venue, but did not do so in court on Friday.

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Maus said he is concerned about the adverse degree of publicity that has occurred in the case, noting that he thinks his client has already been tried and convicted in the Tribune. He is worried the potential jury pool has been tainted.

He said technically, he could file a change of venue motion all the way up through the first day of the trial.

Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab told Maus he would prefer the lawyer file a change of venue motion ahead of time if that is what he plans to do.

The plea came a few weeks following Schwab’s order denying that Broitzman’s statements to authorities be thrown out. He stated the young woman’s statements were not the result of custodial interrogation and that they were voluntarily given.

Broitzman, one of two young women charged as an adult in the case, faces 11 charges ranging from fifth-degree assault, criminal abuse of a vulnerable adult, disorderly conduct and mandatory failure to report suspected abuse at the nursing home.

Co-defendant Ashton Larson, 19, faces similar charges as Broitzman, and four other young women were charged as juveniles for failure to report suspected abuse.

Charges in the case came in December after an investigation into the allegations of abuse by local and Minnesota Department of Health officials; however, details of the allegations surfaced August 2008 after the release of the Department of Health’s report.

The report concluded four teenagers were involved in verbal, sexual and emotional abuse of 15 residents at the nursing home in Albert Lea from January through May 2008. The residents suffered from mental degradation conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Jan Reshetar, a family member of one of the alleged victims responded to the plea hearing: “There was nothing surprising. We’re just letting the judicial system take its course. That’s all we can do.”

Look to the Tribune for more when the court date is set.