2 former nursing home aides plead guilty to charges from video taunting woman, 91, with dementia

ILLINOIS -- Two former aides at a nursing home in north suburban Glenview pleaded guilty Monday to charges stemming from a Snapchat video that showed them taunting a 91-year-old woman with dementia.

Margaret Mary Collins, the elderly woman in the video, can be heard yelling out for help as the two former certified nursing assistants, Brayan Cortez and Jamie Montesa, tease her with a hospital gown that they knew would make her upset. Collins appears to be distressed, flailing her arms and pushing the gown away.

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The video of the encounter, which happened four days before Christmas, was posted to Snapchat with the caption "Margaret hates gowns" and two laughing face emojis.

"Could my mom get out of bed and defend herself or walk away from it? No, and they knew that," said Joan Biebel, Collins' daughter.

Cortez and Montesa pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. The judge told them their behavior was unacceptable and sent them away with supervision and a no contact order.

Still, Biebel doesn't feel that justice was fully served.

"I wish there was more," she said. "I do feel it's an egregious act of trust."

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The family is outraged, and taking legal action, seeking more than $1 million in damages and alleging The Abington nursing home turned a blind eye, despite the video evidence.
"Margaret's privacy was clearly violated," John Perconti, an attorney for the family, previously told ABC7 Eyewitness News. "They had no right to have cell phones in there."

"The privacy and dignity of our residents are of the utmost concern at the Abington," the nursing home previously said in a statement. "Recently, two employees were immediately terminated when it was determined that they violated our standards and policies."

But Collins' family said the workers remained on the job for weeks after initially being cleared by administrators.

"They violate her safety, her privacy, and then they do a slow walk to correct the behavior?" said Tom Collins, the elderly woman's son.

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The Abington released a new statement Monday defending its speed of response to the incident:

"The Abington maintains a 'zero tolerance' policy regarding conduct of this nature and we immediately terminated the two certified nursing assistants after we were able to determine they had violated the facility's policies. Upon learning of the incident, we acted swiftly, immediately suspending the pair and notifying the Illinois Department of Public Health and other state officials of the allegation. Additionally, The Abington has fully cooperated with local police and the state's attorney's office from the very beginning of the investigation. The safety of our residents is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring a safe, protected, and comfortable environment for all of them."

Family members do not want Cortez or Montesa to be able to work in any other facilities. But a quick search on the state's healthcare worker registry shows the pair is still listed as eligible CNAs.

A report from the Illinois Department of Public Health said the Abington failed to implement its own abuse prevention policy. Collins is no longer living there, but her family says the 91-year-old is still having nightmares about the incident.
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