Local News

Caregiver Accused of Abusing Elderly Man

Posted March 18, 1997

— A Sanford family says their 99-year-old loved one was abused by a caregiver and they say they have proof. Franze Gonella's daughter said she had noticed bruises on her father's body so she hid a video camera in his room to tape interaction between him and his in-home nurses aide.

What she saw shocked her. She took the tape to police and the aide, 46-year-old Sally Kelly was arrested. Police say Kelly slapped, hit and otherwise abused the elderly invalid as he lay in his bed. Kelly is charged with seven counts of domestic abuse of an elderly or disabled person.

Lee County Assistant District Attorney Marci Barkley says the video tape will be very helpful evidence in proving the case, especially since Gonella cannot speak for himself.

Jim Garner supervises the Community Alternative Program for the Lee County Department of Social Services. His agency set up the in-home care for the Gonella family. While Garner admits there are occasionally problems, he says most of the agency's 64 clients are happy with their care.

Kelly was actually employed by Parkview In-Home Aid, a state-licensed care provider which is on the DSS referral list. DSS says the providers are responsible for checking the backgrounds of the caregivers. In this case, there was no criminal record or history of abuse to alert the agency to any possible danger.

Incidentally, the Gonella family says they have no problem with Parkview. They still employ caregivers from that company.

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