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Administrators at a Bucks County nursing home failed to report three residents’ sexual abuse, prosecutors said

Two administrators at The Landing of Southampton have been charged with failing to report abuse and related offenses, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ashley Harker and Joy Alfonsi discouraged employees from documenting the abuse and failed to report it themselves, prosecutors said.
Ashley Harker and Joy Alfonsi discouraged employees from documenting the abuse and failed to report it themselves, prosecutors said.Read moreDreamstime / MCT

Two former administrators at a Bucks County nursing home made “a conscious decision” to suppress information about the sexual assaults of three female dementia patients by another patient, all in their care, prosecutors said Thursday, failing to notify both county officials and the victims’ families about the abuse.

Ashley Harker, who previously served as the general manager of The Landing of Southampton, and Joy Alfonsi, The Landing’s former director of health and wellness, have been charged with neglect of a care-dependent person, failure to report abuse, recklessly endangering another person, and related offenses, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in their arrests.

Harker, 37, and Alfonsi, 47, were both released on $75,000 unsecured bail after their preliminary arraignments late Wednesday. There was no indication either had hired an attorney, and neither returned a request for comment.

Both women were fired from the facility in October, according to Michael Juno, the vice president of operations for LeisureCare, the Seattle-based company that owns The Landing.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office is prosecuting this case, said that had the two women followed mandated reporting guidelines for the first assault, the two others could have been prevented.

“The defendants were responsible for the safety and well-being of the residents in their care,” Shapiro said. “But instead of protecting their residents, they sought to cover up incidents of sexual abuse of residents that occurred under their watch.”

State investigators were notified of the abuse at The Landing through anonymous reports made by staff there in August, the affidavit said. With help from local police detectives from Upper Southampton Township, the investigators discovered that the three female residents at The Landing had been sexually assaulted in July by the same man, who was also a dementia patient at the facility.

The assaults took place in the span of four days, each time occurring in common areas where residents gather, and were all witnessed by employees at the facility, according to the affidavit.

In each assault, the male resident fondled or sexually assaulted a female resident and had to be pulled away by a staff member. That male resident — who was not identified in court documents and does not face criminal charges — was moved to another facility after investigators corroborated the reports of sexual abuse, according to the affidavit.

Because The Landing is accredited through the state Department of Human Services, these assaults should have been reported to the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging for further review.

However, the affidavit said, staff members at The Landing were told by Harker and Alfonsi not to document the details of the sexual abuse, each time assuring the employees that they would make the reports themselves.

State investigators, however, found that details about this abuse were not included in documentation submitted by the two administrators, the affidavit said. When investigators went to interview staff at The Landing, Alfonsi stood nearby, causing many of the employees to be reluctant to discuss the issues unless they were away from the facility.

Alfonsi herself told an investigator during an interview that she didn’t recall being notified about one of the sexual assaults and that the anonymous complaints had likely come from “disgruntled employees,” the affidavit said.

As a result of the investigation, The Landing’s certificate of compliance was revoked by DHS in April, according to investigators. The facility will operate on a provisional license until October.

Juno, LeisureCare’s vice president of operations, said Thursday that the company “remains committed to holding our community to the highest standards of safe, quality care.”

The Landing has since hired new managers for the facility and is cooperating with the investigation by Shapiro‘s office, according to Juno.