GREENFIELD — A man accused of mistreating the patients at the adult-care facility his family operated will have his charges dismissed, prosecutors said; but the state’s case against his mother — who ran the nursing home alongside him — still stands.
David Kearns, 35, was charged with neglect and criminal recklessness after state investigators raided Kearns Comfort Care in Greenfield last November and discovered metal dog gates were being used to keep patients caged in their beds, court records state. Locks on doors keep residents confined in their rooms, neglected for hours, according to court documents.
But testimony given by nurses as prosecutors prepared the case for trial left investigators believing it was David Kearns’ mother, 64-year-old Shawn Kearns, who was to blame for the poor care of senior citizens who depended on the family at the unlicensed nursing home, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Marie Castetter said.
Prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss the charges David Kearns faced: two Level 5 felony counts of neglect of a dependent and one Class B misdemeanor of criminal recklessness.
Shawn Kearns’ case is pending in Hancock Circuit Court. Castetter said she expects the woman to accept a plea agreement for prosecutors in coming weeks. The details of the agreement weren’t disclosed because they are still being finalized, Castetter said.
The adults staying at Kearns Comfort Care were mostly incapacitated, officials said; many were unable to clearly speak or communicate and were completely dependent on their caregivers.
The Kearns ran the business out of their duplex, located in the 600 block of Green Meadows Drive, without a license, police said. Their family lived in one side of the structure, while the patients they cared for occupied the other side, records state. The facility avoided adult protective services inspections for years because it was considered a private residence, investigators said.
First responders raided the home last November and took the seven senior citizens who had been living there to Hancock Regional Hospital for care.
Neither of the Kearnses had a medical license, and the facility kept no records of the medication the patients were given and relied on families to schedule doctors’ appointments, court records state.
But a local nurse who occasionally made short visits to Kearns Comfort Care told investigator’s she’d only seen Shawn Kearns abusing the patients, Castetter said. In recent depositions — when sworn out-of-court statements are given to attorneys — the nurse told investigators each time she visited the facility when David Kearns was left in charge, the residents seemed to be happier and more active, Castetter said.
While she believes David Kearns would have been aware of what was happening at the facility, Castetter said the nurse’s statements made it difficult for the state to prove its case against him.
Shawn Kearns is scheduled to appear in court next on June 6. She faces five Level 5 felony counts of neglect of a dependent and three Class B misdemeanors counts of criminal recklessness.
The penalty for a Level 5 felony ranges from one to six years; the penalty for Class B misdemeanors ranges from zero to 180 days in jail.
The Kearnes are out of jail on bond. They share an attorney, Jim McNew of Greenfield.
McNew did not return calls for comment.