Caregiver arrested for allegedly assaulting elderly woman

OLYMPIA -- A 23-year-old former caregiver was arrested this week, accused of assaulting a 90-year-old dementia patient at an Olympia assisted living center.

Olympia Police said Cameron Malizio and another female caregiver at Garden Courte Memory Care Community were attempting to bathe the resident on July 9.

“When she was taken to the shower they turned the water on cold, which made her agitated. That made the caregivers angry, so the male took a washcloth, filled it with soap and then shoved it in her mouth,” Olympia Police spokeswoman Laura Wohl said.

According to court documents, Malizio told the elderly woman that she "needed her mouth washed out." A female co-worker, who was not arrested, allegedly held the elderly woman’s hands behind her back while Malizio stuffed the washcloth in her mouth. (The female caregiver has moved out of state to Alaska, but Olympia police said the investigation is ongoing.)

“When he removed it from her mouth he continued to spray her in the face with cold water in an effort to wash the soap away,” Wohl said.

Fortunately, a trainee witnessed the incident. She said the client looked frightened and seemed like she couldn’t breathe. When she reported the incident, Malizio and his accomplice were immediately fired and police were notified.

Kate Greene with Senior Services for South Sound said this case highlights the importance of staying connected with loved ones who are in assisted living.

“Get to know the people that work there and visit your loved one. If you can, visit someone else too,” Greene said.

Greene said you should ask residents if they have concerns and are being treated well. In this case, due to advanced dementia, the 90-year-old victim wasn’t able to remember or report what happened.

Senior advocates also hope care providers will do more to ensure the people they hire to work with a vulnerable population are there for the right reasons.

Garden Courte’s Executive Director LaTanya Jules released the following statement:

“We at Garden Courte strive to provide the best care for our residents. When we were made aware of allegations of this employee’s conduct that did not meet our standards of care, we terminated our employment relationship with the individual in July 2013. Subsequently, we notified the State of Washington and the Olympia Police Department on this matter and have fully cooperated in working with them to bring closure to this unfortunate issue. We have many wonderful employees that come to work every day and appreciate and love our residents like family members.”

The Department of Scoal and Health Services said there are no current enforcement letters against Garden Courte. Earlier this year, another employee was arrested there for stealing jewelry from patients.

Cameron Malizio posted a $5,000 bond and was released from custody. He will be arraigned on Oct. 29.