Elder Abuse Caught on Video Prompts Law Questions

A case involving the suspected abuse of an elderly woman by her caregiver is highlighting a loophole in New Jersey law.

After a string of thefts committed by other home health aides, the family of Maria Bologna set up a hidden nanny cam in the elderly woman’s bedroom. The family had hired then-unlicensed home health aide Gloria Pagonzaga based upon a recommendation from a nun at a local church.

When the 99-year old woman began having terrified outbursts, the Priotti family first attributed it to the woman’s dementia. However, when Pagonzaga abruptly quit, the family decided to review footage taken from the nanny cam. What they saw prompted them to go to police.

Video footage shows Pagonzaga raising her arm and making a punching gesture at the women. Footage also indicates Pagonzaga throwing a pillow at the woman. A police report was filed and Pagonzaga was charged with simple assault. However, since she did not actually strike the elderly woman, she was only given a summons and did not go to jail. Pagonzaga pleaded not guilty.

Despite having assault charges pending, Pagonzaga was able to apply for, and receive, a license as a home health aide. The state says that they cannot deny a license based upon pending charges. The Priotti family’s vocal concerns have prompted State Senator Robert Gordon to look into the law. He believes that anyone applying for a license in professions that deal with public safety should not be granted that license until they are exonerated of all charges.

Pagonzaga is set to appear in court in mid-January.

If you believe that someone you care for has been the victim of elder abuse, contact the offices of Schenk Law. Our attorneys specialize in cases involving elder abuse and can help you. Contact us today.