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Worker accused of rape at Lillington assisted-living facility

Posted January 30, 2013

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— The Harnett County Sheriff's Office is investigating claims by several residents at an assisted-living facility in Lillington who say they were raped by a medical technician.

The complaints surfaced Jan. 18 after Jemel Antwan Bell, 23, of 205 N. Orange Ave., Dunn, was arrested on charges of second-degree rape, second-degree sexual offense and sexual battery in connection with an assault on a resident who "was mentally unstable and physically helpless," according to a search warrant.

Bell worked for Pinecrest Gardens, at 1984 Old U.S. Highway 421, and had been an employee for there for less than two years.

Pinecrest Gardens management won't comment on the matter, and it's unclear whether Bell, who was jailed under a $75,000 bond, is still an employee.

According to the Jan. 23 search warrant to collect Bell's DNA, an employee called the sheriff's office, saying she saw Bell standing at the foot of a resident's bed with his hand at his crotch.

Jemel Bell Assisted-living center employee faces rape charge

When she returned, according to the warrant, she found what appeared to be semen on the floor where Bell had been standing.

Other residents came forward after being interviewed by a sheriff's detective. The warrant does not say how many residents made allegations.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins would not comment on the case Wednesday except to say that investigators are looking into whether there might be other victims.

Court records show Bell was convicted of felony larceny in 2008 and served eight months in prison. It's unclear whether Pinecrest Gardens was aware of his criminal record.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Health Service Regulation, the facility is licensed to house 60 residents. It has scored well in annual inspections, with no serious violations.

45 Comments

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  • 3TeensGrowinUp2Fast Feb 8, 4:12 p.m.

    And there should be no more sealing of juvi records, and if you have any conviction of a misdemeanor or higher, you should not be permitted to work around children, elderly or infirmed people, period! Our most defenseless victims are the prime targets of sick twisted people!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ginufine3011 Jan 31, 7:57 p.m.

    Nauti-dog - "You do realize that bond isn't designed to be part of the punishment, right? It's to ensure he shows up in court."

    Having worked in law for most of my life, I fully realize that.

    But high bonds in sex abuse cases keeps innocents safe from them for that period of time too.

    With a $75,000 bond, he'll be out with a $11,250 bond payment, and his mama who won't believe he did this, will mortgage her house to get that for her little darling.

    Were the bond ALWAYS $1M for sex offenses, innocents would all be safer from sex offenders, alleged or otherwise, because mama's house is rarely worth 10-15% of that.
    Nephesh Kai
    January 30, 2013 7:17 p.m.

    So what you are saying is he deserves to get out of jai, if he can bond out with 1million dollar bond? That's just crazy. What's the difference if he post $75,000 or 1m to be out on the streets? IMO money shouldn't be able to buy freedom.

  • anon022 Jan 31, 5:03 p.m.

    I work for a mental health agency in the HR department, we do CAP/IDD services (employees working with clients one-on-one in the home/community). The ONLY way we could hire a convicted felon is if the family of the client says they want that person to work with their child/family member and they are fully aware of that person's charges. Even someone with mulitple misdemeanors we will not hire. And we run a criminal background check and sex offender check on everyone that is hired in.
    This is a terrible story and can't imagine this happening to anyone let alone someone who cannot defend themselves.

  • Bartmeister Jan 31, 8:51 a.m.

    Hmmmm, can't wait to hear from all of the Libs crying about the State Senate not rushing to a vote about future funding of group homes. These group homes run amuck with their operations, and can't even manage their own personnel much less their budgets and finances. In the end, the people in the homes suffer NOT because the government won't fund broken operations, but because broken operations are pillaging the system of resources.

  • Sweet summertime Jan 31, 8:29 a.m.

    I have done clinicals at a assisted living facility and I have to say it is a shame to know this could happend to these residents. I myself cared alot for my residents while I was doing my schooling and I cannot imagine someone taking advantage of them...This is sick and I just hope justice is serve to the max.

  • Wendellcatlover Jan 31, 8:12 a.m.

    "Court records show Bell was convicted of felony larceny in 2008 and served eight months in prison. It's unclear whether Pinecrest Gardens was aware of his criminal record."

    Why the he!! weren't they aware of his record? They need to be held accountable as well if it is determined that no background check was run on this perv.

  • irishluck1978 Jan 30, 7:33 p.m.

    For safety reasons I also believe the rooms should be wired for video and sound. As for the invasion of privacy, it would be a general though that if someone is so against it then either take your loved one elsewhere. I would be more content knowing my loved one was safe at all times.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 30, 7:21 p.m.

    okay - "I thought all facilities that were licensed by the state are required to do background checks under North Carolina Gen Statues 122C-80?"

    I believe so, but I also believe if they committed a crime while a teen or if they committed a crime unrelated to the work they'd be doing, they can still be hired.

    In other words, you could hire someone with a bank robbery charge that they were convicted of and served time for to be a caregiver in a child care facility, BUT - why would anyone in their right mind do so?

    The problem probably is that these places pay very little, and this is what they end up with.

    Then if they pay more, they have to charge more, and then we'd complain about that.

    Still...the rooms of those incapacitated need to be fully wired with audio and video. Those things aren't expensive at all anymore.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 30, 7:18 p.m.

    I'm beginning to think the rooms of those in homes like this who are unable to call for help or defend themselves should be required by law to be wired for audio and video.

    But then you'll have some milquetoast saying it's an invasion of their privacy.

    Heck, their safety is more important to me than their privacy is since they're incapacitated.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 30, 7:17 p.m.

    Nauti-dog - "You do realize that bond isn't designed to be part of the punishment, right? It's to ensure he shows up in court."

    Having worked in law for most of my life, I fully realize that.

    But high bonds in sex abuse cases keeps innocents safe from them for that period of time too.

    With a $75,000 bond, he'll be out with a $11,250 bond payment, and his mama who won't believe he did this, will mortgage her house to get that for her little darling.

    Were the bond ALWAYS $1M for sex offenses, innocents would all be safer from sex offenders, alleged or otherwise, because mama's house is rarely worth 10-15% of that.

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