Local News

Worker accused of rape at Lillington assisted-living facility

Posted January 30, 2013 3:20 p.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2013 6:58 p.m. EST

— 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.

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.