Rape charges at nursing home

PERKINS TWP. After visiting her fiancé Saturday night at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Cent
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



After visiting her fiancé Saturday night at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center, Linda Monegan knew something was wrong.

"I went to his bedside and I looked down at his face, and he looked like he'd seen a ghost," she said through tears.

Unable to talk or see after suffering a stroke, her 55-year-old fianc nodded his head to signify he was in pain. He had been sexually assaulted by a nurse, she said.

"This is just inhumane," Monegan said. "The love of my life was laying there helpless and someone comes in and violates him."

Concord Care night-shift nurse John R. Riems, 49, 100 block of W. Cedarwood, was arrested Monday on felony charges of rape and gross sexual imposition. He is being held on $100,000 bond at the Erie County jail.

During questioning Riems recalled abusing nearly 100 patients during his more than 20-year career, Perkins police Chief Tim McClung said. But Riems could only recall specific information about 24 of those victims, he said. More charges may come as police track down leads.

Riems, who obtained his registered nursing license in 1985 through Providence Hospital's nursing school, has worked at several nursing homes, including some outside of Perkins Township, McClung said.

Concord Care director Jessica Short refused to answer any questions. Instead, she handed over a four-sentence typed statement, closed her office door and called police.

The statement indicated an employee accused of "inappropriately touching" a resident was fired.

"We cannot share any more detail at this time out of respect for the privacy of our resident, and in light of the ongoing police investigation," the statement read.

After she told police about the incident, Monegan said she was ordered by a nurse not to return to Concord Care, and now fears for her beloved's life.

"He doesn't feel safe," said family member Mary White, who has visited the partially paralyzed man since the incident. "When you touch him, he thinks you're going to do something to him."

Many of the victims were elderly or disabled and unable to report the abuse, McClung said.

"Most of them are in their 80s," he said. "Some of these people are listed as deceased. They're like kids: They make almost a perfect victim. If they do tell someone, it's often glossed over."

The case remains under investigation. Police have not released information about other places Riems has worked during his nursing career.

Riems was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Sandusky Municipal Court where he pleaded not guilty to the charges. If he posts bond he will be required to wear an ankle monitoring device, said Judge Erich O'Brien.

The family is calling for justice to be served not only on Riems, but the entire nursing staff, who they say are responsible for patient neglect.

"The nursing home needs to be closed," said family friend Irene Edwards.

Besides the sexual abuse, Monegan said her fiancé suffered from burns to his legs, dehydration, bed sores and an unkempt trachea tube while staying at Concord Care since October 2007.

"What if that was your family member?" Monegan said. "What if that was your loved one?"