Lawsuit filed against Ashland memory care facility, cites negligence

ASHLAND, Ore.– An assisted living facility is being sued for millions of dollars for inaction and negligence in a sexual abuse case that occurred in 2018.

The case filed Monday was on behalf of the family of Priscilla Brower, who was placed in the Skylark Memory Care facility in Ashland in 2016 due to her severe Alzheimer’s disease. According to the lawsuit, in 2018 Brower was sexually abused by another resident who had moved in and was described as a man with dementia and a history of sexually aggressive behavior.

The lawsuit states in October 2018, Skylark admitted the man into the facility and was notified by the man’s family he had a prior history of inappropriate sexual activity. An investigation by the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services found that over the course of October into early November, the man had inappropriate sexual aggression with at least five female residents in the facility including Brower. The investigation by Adult Protective Services found assaults on Brower included oral rape and abuse.

Brower, who was 68 at the time, could not verbally communicate and was unable to respond to questions or conversations due to her Alzheimer’s disease. The lawsuit states at no time did she consent to sexual contact. The family said in the suit, the facility is understaffed and failed to provide the necessary security promised.

Brower’s family also claims it did not receive any notification of the abuse or assaults from Skylark until after several incidents had occurred. But even then, the suit says the facility did not say physical contact had occurred nor did they disclose information about any other assaults.

The lawsuit says Skylark failed to keep Brower safe and violated the trust of her family.

Skylark Memory Care, its ownership, Ashland Assisted Living, and Skylark Memory Care Director Mandy Shelton have been listed as defendants in the case. The family is suing for $7 million in damages. Brower passed away in December 2018.

Skylark did respond with a statement saying:

“While we cannot discuss patient specifics in any forum, other than the appropriate forum, to the best of our knowledge what you are referencing pertains to an event that occurred over a year and a half ago. This event was reported to the state by Skylark, investigated and resolved. There have been no other events of this nature at Skylark.

Last week as the coronavirus was becoming a real threat, we received a lawsuit by an attorney who we believe represents the person involved in the case. We cannot discuss the facts, other than to say the case has been improperly pled, and much of it will be dismissed, we believe, as soon as we file our answer, which is due in the next 30 days.

T​he lawyer alleges – though he cannot prove – and seeks damages which are not allowed by law. In addition, the lawyer is apparently intent on trying this in the media, which is something we cannot and will not do.

Right now, there is a nationwide threat and our focus and priority is on the care and service to our residents and families. No other comments will be made at this time.”

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