PENOBSCOT, Maine — A Castine woman who had been charged with gross sexual assault as a result of an incident at a local nursing home a year ago has pleaded guilty to lesser charges, according to documents filed in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth.
Sara N. Comtois, 23, who was working as a nursing aide at Penobscot Nursing Home before it closed last summer, last week received a sentence of three years in prison with all but 45 days suspended for conviction on a Class C felony charge of intentionally endangering the welfare of a dependent person. Class C crimes in Maine are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Comtois also pleaded guilty to a charge of assault in relation to the March 26, 2014, incident and was ordered to pay $415 in fines, fees and surcharges, according to court documents. She will begin serving two years of probation upon her release from jail, during which time she could be sent back to spend more time behind bars if she gets in trouble with the law.
The two counts of gross sexual assault were dismissed as a result of a plea deal with prosecutors. Comtois began serving her sentence at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth on Friday, Feb. 27.
The victim in the incident was a 74-year-old man who was a resident at the home, which shut down last summer after the federal Department of Health and Human Services decided to revoke the facility’s Medicaid and Medicare certifications. According to federal investigative reports on the facility, the assault was one of several incidents that prompted the closure of the nursing home, which was licensed to have up to 54 patients.
Other factors related to the revocation order that were cited in reports by federal inspectors include:
— The April 29, 2014, death of a patient after a fall at the nursing home.
— Substandard physical conditions and sanitary practices.
— Improper or insufficient record keeping, physician visits and handling of patient medications.