Man Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Patients At BA Senior Care Facility

Friday, September 13th 2013, 1:43 pm
By: News On 6

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect booking photo. The team regrets the error.

Broken Arrow police arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting two nursing home patients.

The women are 93 and 80 years old, and are patients at Franciscan Villa in Broken Arrow. Police say what helped in their investigation is how quickly the staff there contacted police.

Police say Uqbasilassie Zerie admitted to sexually assaulting the two women several times over the past six or seven months. They say the situation came to light when one of his co-workers saw something unusual.

"She goes into the elderly patient's room, turns on the light and sees the suspect pulling up his pants," said Cpl. Leon Calhoun, of the Broken Arrow Police Department.

The staff at Franciscan Villa called police that very day, September 11, 2013.

The next day when Zerie came into work, the staff says he admitted assaulting the woman in that room.

Officers say, when they interviewed him, he also admitted to assaulting the second victim.

Zerie's Facebook page says he worked for St. John, the company that owns the Villa, but he didn't say what his job was.

St. John won't tell us what his job was or how long he worked there.

Zerie's not listed as a licensed nurse on the state's website.

St. John sent us this statement Friday:

"Franciscan Villa takes matters such as this very seriously. We notified local law enforcement of a potential incident involving abuse. The employee has been terminated, and we have initiated a full investigation, which includes working closely with local authorities.

"We are unable to comment on the details of this situation due to the ongoing investigation. However, providing safe care for our residents remains our first priority.

"All staff go through background screening that includes criminal background and sex offender checks. Additionally, training is provided on patient rights and reporting of any suspected abuse or neglect. Suspected behavior is immediately reported to local law enforcement, DHS and the Oklahoma Department of Health."

They added, all staff goes through criminal and sex offender background checks and training on how to report any suspected abuse.

Police say that early reporting was key.

"It's better to get out there and verify there's not a problem than to be called after the fact and miss a chance to prosecute someone, because there's no evidence or he's gotten out of the area," Calhoun said.

Police say the suspect is working in this country on a green card from East Africa. They say he's been working in the Broken Arrow area for the past two years. Now, he faces five counts of sexual assault.