Patient sexually assaulted at Willowbrook-area nursing home, lawsuit claims

HOUSTON – A lawsuit against Willowbrook Residence and Rehabilitation Center and its management company accuses the facility of negligence and of trying to cover up a sexual assault against a patient.

“Caring for seniors with the respect, compassion and dignity they deserve is the top priority” at Willowbrook Residence and Rehabilitation Center, the facility's website says.

But the lawsuit and an extensive Health and Human Services report about the incident say the victim, a 65-year-old patient with dementia and stage 4 Parkinson's disease, was sexually assaulted.

The lawsuit and report also detail failures by staff at Willowbrook, including the facility administrator and the head nurse, who no longer work there, to report and properly investigate the alleged crime.

In their response to the lawsuit, attorneys for Willowbrook provided a general denial of wrongdoing, and then listed among their defenses, “plaintiff’s injuries and damages, if any, were the result of (her) own acts or omissions.”

Staff placed the victim in her bed with the door open at 3:30 p.m. on March 22, 2018, the HHS report said.

Nearly two hours later, staff realized the door was closed and that the victim was using a service button to call for help. That’s when a nurse found another patient, Norman Eugene Lee, inside the woman's room, sexually assaulting her, according to the report.

The HHS report concluded that the facility “failed to ensure all alleged violations involving abuse, neglect, exploitation or mistreatment were reported immediately.”

In addition, “the facility failed to provide evidence that a thorough investigation was conducted” and “the administrator failed to thoroughly investigate” the incident, the report said.

Finally, the report concluded, the facility “failed to monitor” Lee’s “behaviors when he was receiving” antipsychotic medication.

Willowbrook management told nurses to clean up the mess, the report said, and police were not called until five hours later when the alleged victim was at the hospital.

Police arrested Lee on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of an elderly and disabled female. His trial is set to begin in July.

The lawsuit is asking for $200,000 to $1 million in damages. Willowbrook attorneys did not return requests for comment.