LA MESA (KGTV) -- An East County nursing home was fined $16,000 by the state for failing to protect one of its residents against sexual abuse by a certified nursing assistant.
Matthew Fluckiger is currently in custody, facing four counts of forcible lewd acts and one count of lewd acts against an adult dependent.
The citation, issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), found that Parkway Hills Nursing & Rehabilitation in La Mesa “failed to protect Resident 1 from sexual abuse when a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA 5) entered Resident 1’s room and sexually abused the resident.”
The alleged abuse happened in January 2020. The citation was issued to the facility on May 24th of this year. The document said a 61-year-old woman was admitted to the facility in December 2019 for wound care and physical therapy. The following month, the woman said that the CNA “entered her room unannounced and appeared inside her privacy curtain without saying anything.” The citation then said the CNA sexually assaulted her twice on that day.
In an interview with KPBS in April, the woman said that Fluckiger told her to stay quiet about what happened. “He was making his eyebrows go up and down and saying, I know where you live and your family… like he was putting a spell on me,” she said through her tears.
The woman also said that he told her he knew she wasn’t going to say anything. KPBS reported abuse allegations surfaced at other facilities a few years before the alleged incident at Parkway.
“The facility itself didn't bother checking employment history, didn't call former employers, so didn't get to find out that this guy had a very troubling history,” said Mike Dark, an attorney with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. He blames not only the nursing homes, but also the Department of Public Health.
“There were at least three instances of sexual misconduct that had been reported to the state about the same individual before that fourth and final horrific attack took place,“ Dark said. “The state did nothing about it.”
Avocado Post Acute was also fined $2,000 for not self-reporting the abuse that allegedly occurred at its facility in 2019. Nobody at the nursing home would comment about the citation.
A spokesperson for Parkway said she would email Team 10 a statement, but as of Monday evening, Team 10 had not received anything.
“Someone needs to write a citation for the California Department of Public Health. Who’s going to write that citation?” Dark said. “I'd like to write it because it was their negligence as much as the negligence of the facility that let this woman suffer as well as the other victims of this perpetrator.”
Team 10 questioned the CDPH about why the fine was issued only recently, when the alleged abuse occurred in 2019 and 2020. A spokesperson wrote: “Generally speaking, penalties occur after the investigations of the actual incidents they are related to have been completed. The penalty process is separate from the investigation process. The penalty process does not initiate until after the investigation is completed.”
Team 10 also asked why Fluckiger was allowed to transfer from nursing home to nursing home. The statement from CDPH addressed this and said: “Criminal background checks are required for most staff working in these facilities as part of their professional licensing process, such as registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and certified nurse assistants. However, state law does not specifically require skilled nursing facilities (SNF) to conduct criminal background checks on their employees.”
The statement added that “no state law requires a facility to review employment history or request employment references, but it is common practice for any employer to do so.”
Fluckiger remains in custody on $1 million dollars bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for early August.