Former Nursing Home Resident Becomes First Person With Expressive Aphasia To Testify in Court

defendant in nursing home criminal trial [Photo Caption: Nursing home worker Kofi Agana was found not guilty of sexual assault. (Photo Courtesy of the Metrowest Daily News)]

Even though Ruby McDonough didn’t win her nursing home abuse lawsuit, the 63-year-old aphasia sufferer emerged from a Framingham, Mass. courtroom victorious.

“What’s important is the message that [McDonough] sends to predators,” said McDonough’s lawyer, Wendy Murphy. “You may think you can pick on a woman like Ruby, a person with aphasia, but it’s no longer true.”

McDonough suffers from a particular from of called “expressive aphasia,” which severely limits speaking and writing abilities. McDonough can only express herself with two or three words, and was trying to prove that she was sexually abusedat the Sudbury Pines Rehabilitation Center in 2009. McDonough claimed that a Ghanian worker named Kofi Agana had fondled her breasts and touched her between her legs.

According to the Metrowest Daily News, McDonough was able to point to Agana as her  perpetrator, and was able to demonstrate on her own body where she’d been touched. Yet some of the answers she gave were conflicting, and she often had difficulty understanding questions. In the end, with what seemed like an air of regret, the judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to pin Agana as the assailant.

“The one thing we have to accommodate is the burden of proof,” said Judge Robert Greco. “Something happened in that nursing home, but I don’t know what happened, where it happened, or who exactly did it…Something unfair may have happened to (McDonough), but life can be unfair sometimes. I can’t find a finding of anything other than not guilty.”

Despite the ruling, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement has ordered Agana deported back to Ghana.

For more information on nursing homes in Chicago look here. For laws related to Illinois nursing homes, look here.

Resources:

Mentally Disabled Patients Are Easy Targets for Abuse in Institutional Settings January 21, 2010 Nursing Homes Abuse Blog

‘Aphasia’ Educates on Communication Disorder September 25, 2011 ABC News Chicago

Learning to Speak All Over Again January 11, 2009 CBS Evening News

Justia Lawyer Rating for Jonathan Rosenfeld

Client Reviews

★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
★★★★★
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric