BANGOR, Maine — A Penobscot County jury Wednesday found a certified nursing assistant not guilty of fondling the genitals of a male patient in February at the local Maine Veterans Home.
Rodger D. Shanklin, 35, of Bangor took the stand in his own defense and denied inappropriately touching the 70-year-old man who was admitted to the home in January after he suffered a heart attack. The alleged victim also suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, according to testimony during the 2½-day trial.
Shanklin, who worked the overnight shift at the home, was charged with endangering the welfare of a dependent person, a felony, and unlawful sexual touching and assault, both misdemeanors. If convicted, he would have faced up to five years in prison on the felony and a year in jail on the other charges.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before announcing the not guilty verdict.
A conviction also could have affected his license as a CNA.
“We are hopeful he’ll be able to resume his career that was abruptly interrupted,” Shanklin’s attorney, Charles Budd of Bangor, said.
The attorney added that his client felt “vindicated and relieved” by the verdict.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue of the Health Care Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.
The Attorney General’s Office is the designated enforcement agency charged with prosecuting cases of Medicaid and Medicare fraud and protecting patients in health care facilities that receive federal funds, according Leanne Robbin, chief of the Financial Crimes and Civil Rights Division.
“These kinds of cases, when there are no witnesses, are always hard to prove,” Robbin, who oversees the unit for which Bogue works, said Wednesday. “We had the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was endangered and assaulted.”
She also praised the man, his wife and daughter. The elderly man, who now is being cared for at home, did not testify, but a video recording of his deposition was played for the jury. The women attended the trial.
“It took a lot of courage for the victim to come forward and have a public trial,” the prosecutor said.
The elderly man on Feb. 12 told a day shift CNA that he refused to allow Shanklin to clean him during the night because he had fondled him. That led to an investigation by the Attorney General’s office and Shanklin’s prosecution.
Budd theorized in his closing arguments that the elderly man, who had never been cared for by a male nurse before, might have misunderstood Shanklin’s appropriate efforts at washing him.
“I think that he was experiencing a number of extremely stressful events in his life and that the experience of becoming completely helpless followed by the assignment of a male nurse to his care overwhelmed him,” the defense attorney said.