Victim Blames Facility Owner for Assault

Date: February 8, 2006
The Scranton Times – 02/28/2006
BY: JAMES HAGGERTY STAFF WRITER

The owner of a Wyoming County assisted-living facility did not alert her staff that a resident who sexually assaulted an 86-year-old Alzheimer\’s patient four years ago was a convicted sexual offender, the victim\’s attorney said during a federal negligence trial Monday.

The victim, now 90, is seeking more than $75,000 from Country Living Personal Care Home, Nicholson, and its owner, Shirley D. Sheridan,? of Montrose, resulting from the sexual assault on Feb. 27, 2002. It is the Times-Tribune\’s policy not to name sexual-assault victims.

The woman was a resident of the home when she was sexually assaulted in her room by Daniel Statham, then 31 and a resident of Country Living, her complaint states.

Mr. Statham, who is mentally handicapped, was a convicted sexually violent predator who should not have been living at the home because of the danger he posed to others, the victim\’s attorney, Sean McDonough, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Blewitt at the non jury trial.

The victim, now of Millington, Tenn., and her son, also of Millington, allege the facility and Mrs. Sheridan disregarded her safety and rights, which resulted in the assault. Mrs. Sheridan has stated she did not know Mr. Statham was a convicted sex offender and “Megan\’s Law” violator.

Mr. Statham was convicted in 1995 in Wayne County Court of aggravated indecent assault involving a 14-year-old girl and was sentenced to six years in state prison, court records show. After his release in 2001, he was charged in Northumberland County for failing to register as a sexual predator under the state\’s “Megan\’s Law.” He was placed on supervised probation by a county judge and ordered to live in a halfway house in Scranton and get counseling.

Mr. Statham was to be put on a bus to Scranton. Somehow, Northumberland County sheriffs deputies took him to the Omni Health Personal Care Home in Montrose, Susquehanna County, also owned by Mrs. Sheridan.

Court papers indicate Lackawanna County officials were unable to find a place for Mr. Statham to reside, and he was moved to Country Living on Oct. 26, 2001.

Mrs. Sheridan knew Mr. Statham was a convicted sexual offender, Mr. McDonough charged, but did not notify the staff of the home. “She exposed (the victim) to a terrible risk,” he said.
Attorney Eugene Hickey, who represents Country Living and Mrs. Sheridan, denied the home was at fault. Mrs. Sheridan did not know the man\’s criminal history or that he was a threat, he said, or she never would have admitted him to the home.

“This isn\’t a case of reckless indifference,” Mr. Hickey said. He said Mr. Statham was “dumped” on the home.

State police arrested Mr. Statham on April 8, 2002. He pleaded guilty Feb. 12, 2003, to aggravated indecent assault and was sentenced to five to 10 years in a state prison.

Contact the writer: jhaggeliy@timesshamrock.com
©The Times-Tribune 2008
Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.