Former Nursing Assistant Takes Plea in Crystal Lake Nursing Home Sex Case
Written by Jeff Meyer on June 7, 2015
While it’s been four long years – and a pair of mistrials – since he first stood accused of the inappropriate touching of a 93-year-old resident of the Illinois nursing home at which he was once employed, 26-year-old Angelo J. Bird has entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced sentence.
There were several delays faced in resolving Bird’s culpability for the alleged crime. In fact, one major hurdle to be overcome, and one that led to the time between the former nursing home assistant’s initial arrest and his day in court stretch on to years, was whether the alleged victim’s testimony would be allowed in court.
The woman had died in 2012, making it impossible to include her testimony secondhand through those she had spoken to about the incident, such as the emergency room nurse and Crystal Lake police officer that were present at the time. However, a decision by the appellate courts made an exception to the hearsay rule to allow her posthumous testimony to be made in this manner.
Questions of Reliability
Even after the woman’s testimony was ruled admissible, there were still questions as to whether it would be reliable based on the chronic illnesses she suffered in life, one of these being Alzheimer’s disease. The two witnesses that related the woman’s words remarked that she seemed aware and lucid at the time, but medical staff from the nursing home had testified previously that she had demonstrated from both dementia and delusions of persecution as a result of her illness, and that she had made false statements in the past.
Despite these uncertainties, with Bird’s confession in hand the jury finding him guilty of the charges seemed a foregone conclusion. Despite this, the legal proceedings ended not once but twice in mistrial – both times for the same reason.
The Long, Slow Legal March
Bird was initially arrested in 2011 after allegations were made that he had touched the woman at the Crystal Pines Nursing Home in Crystal Lake, where he worked as a certified nursing assistant. The then 21-year-old Bird maintained his innocence at first, though he confessed to touching the woman in a written statement after he was interrogated by US Secret Service agents.
However, what seemed like an open-and-shut case was complicated during earlier trials when these agents testified to juries that Bird had undergone a polygraph test, despite the fact that the presiding judge had instructed them previously to not divulge the information. The first time this occurred, in July of 2014, resulted in a mistrial; it happened again in May of 2015 and again led to a mistrial after a second agent made the same mistake, according to reports from the Northwest Herald.
At this point, Bird’s legal team decided to settle for a plea arrangement: the young man, who was now 26 years old, would plead guilty to aggravated battery instead of inappropriate touching. In addition, Bird will not be required to register as a sex offender. He will be required to be on probation for two years following a 59-day stint in Illinois’ McHenry County Jail.
Meanwhile, the civil case brought against both Bird and the Crystal Pines Nursing Home is still ongoing. The legal team for the deceased woman’s family is seeking damages of $50,000 from the nursing home’s inability to protect her from the assault she allegedly suffered at the hands of the former nursing assistant. Despite his written confession, Bird maintains his innocence.