A health aide sexually abused an 84-year-old patient at an Ocean County long-term care facility, state authorities said.
Authorities charged Michael A. Edwards, 32, of Manchester with aggravated sexual contact after officials at the Sunrise Senior Living facility in Jackson
told police that another employee caught him “inappropriately touching an elderly woman in her room at the facility,” state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Edwards – also known as Michael Donaldson – was released pending court action and fired from the job, Grewal said.
The state Division of Consumer Affairs also announced Monday that it was temporarily suspending Edwards’s license as a a certified home health aide.
The suspension comes as the DCA conducts a sweeping review of how its 51 professional boards address allegations involving the sexual misconduct and abuse of licensees and applicants, Grewal said.
The boards oversee approximately 720,000 active licensed professionals, from accountants and doctors to plumbers and veterinarians, the attorney general said.
The review includes evaluations of whether boards should ask additional questions on license applications, how boards approach investigations and discipline, and how boards engage with complainants alleging sexual misconduct and abuse by a licensee or applicant, he said.
“It’s an egregious abuse of trust when any licensee sexually preys on a patient or client, but it is especially heinous when the victim is an elderly individual under their care,” Grewal said.
He emphasized the need for New Jersey’s professional boards to “remain vigilant in protecting vulnerable patients, as well as the importance of the review they are presently undertaking to better protect victims and hold licensees accountable for their actions.”
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