Massachusetts Nursing Aides Charged with Elder Abuse for Snapchat Photos
Two Massachusetts nursing home employees face elder abuse charges after posting videos of an incident of abuse on Snapchat. The mobile app, which allows users to share photos and videos with their friends for a very short period of time, retained the images on its servers, which allowed prosecutors to gather evidence of the elder abuse incident.
The two 23-year-olds, Sabrina Costa and Kala Shaniece Lopez, are accused of multiple counts of elder abuse after numerous videos surfaced. One video consisted of an 86-year-old woman on the toilet answering questions about her sex life and whether or not she had smoked marijuana. Another video showed one of the aides climbing into bed with 99-year-old woman.
“This is an example of individuals taking advantage of our most vulnerable citizens,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement regarding the elder abuse charges. “These victims were allegedly humiliated and assaulted by the very people who were charged with their care.”
Lowell police were called to the nursing home on July 31st, after family members of the victims reported that the two nursing aides had posted the disturbing videos of elder abuse on Snapchat. There is no information on how the relatives discovered the videos, but an administrator at the nursing home told reporters that the families had been tipped off by someone who had seen the videos. Both Costa and Lopez are identifiable in the videos.
During their arrest, the women told police officers that they had just been joking around with the Snapchat videos.
Lopez has been charged with permitting abuse on an elderly or disabled person, while Costa has been charged with assault and battery on an elderly or disabled person. The two were arraigned on Thursday, August 6th, where they both pleaded not guilty to 3 counts of abuse each. The judge ordered them to have no contact with the elderly in a healthcare capacity. The nursing home fired both employees and is conducting its own investigation.