MPTF Vows To Tell Its “Side Of The Story” In ​Sexual Assault & Elder Abuse Lawsuits

By David Robb, Dominic Patten

Motion Picture and Television Fund

UPDATED, 5:29 PM: The MPTF said today that it “takes all allegations and reported occurrences of sexual assault and harassment seriously, among its employees, residents, and patients in its skilled nursing facility” in response to an elder abuse lawsuit that claims blind eyes were turned to sexual assaults by a resident of its Alzheimer’s unit.

In a statement to Deadline (see full statement below), a MPTF spokesperson added, “We investigate and are committed to taking corrective action in all instances.” A statement that seems at odds with the detailed allegations and claims of “cover up” made in their December 15 filing by lawyers for MPTF resident Nancy Renard and another suit from August.

“We look forward to telling our side of the story and defending these cases in court in February and May of next year,” the Motion Picture and Television Fund asserted Thursday of the complaint for damages firs filed in LA Superior Court last week,

PREVIOUSLY, 1:18 PM: The Motion Picture and Television Fund is being sued by two residents of the famed Motion Picture Country House and Hospital, who claim that managers there engaged in a “cover up” of numerous sexual assaults on female residents by a fellow resident who has Alzheimer’s.

In her elder abuse and assault and battery lawsuit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), retired costumer Nancy Renard claimed that fellow resident Rafael Palacios “sexually assaulted 13 residents of the facility” and that managers there had concealed from her family his history of aggressive behavior and “sexual disinhibition.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants “have long known, and covered up, that they freely allowed a sexual predator to roam their halls endangering residents” and, as a result of their “conspiracy of silence,” failed to protect the residents and allowed Palacios to “physically abuse and sexually assault” them.

Deadline reached out to the Motion Picture & Television Fund about both cases but has yet to receive a response.

Renard’s suit alleges that Palacios, a former longtime employee of the Motion Picture & Television Fund before he became a resident at the retirement home, was found on top of Renard “in her bed with his pants down sexually assaulting her” and that managers failed to tell her family that he “had previously been found on top of another female resident in her room with his penis exposed.”

Her suit also claims that he exposed himself to at least two staff members on two separate occasions and entered uninvited into the rooms of an additional nine female residents within a four-month period this year.

The complaint cites a “nursing weekly summary,” dated June 16, that noted that he’d previously had “68 episodes of aggressive behavior and 33 episodes of ‘sexual disinhibition.’”

Palacios, who is named as a defendant in both suits, was a resident of the facility’s nationally acclaimed Alzheimer’s unit, known as Harry’s Haven. Renard’s suit, however, notes that “his dementia was becoming so severe that he simply lacked the mental ability and capacity to control his actions.”

On July 1, the son of one of the residents who had allegedly been sexually assaulted emailed the director of the MPTF’s geriatric services to alert her to the continuing problems they were having with him. Here’s the email, which is an exhibit in Renard’s suit:

 “I wanted to write you about something I’m quite sure you must be aware of, but is of growing concern to me,” he wrote. “For the past several weeks, one of the residents in A Wing, Rafael, has been wandering into many of the female resident’s rooms in A Wing and, on many occasions, climbs atop them….much to their horror.

“Last week, I was mildly relieved to see a ‘sitter’ outside his room, monitoring his movements. I had assumed that there would be someone stationed there 24/7 if the intention was to keep him in Harry’s.

“Sadly, that turned out not to be the case. When I arrived this morning, not only wasn’t there a ‘sitter,’ but one of the newer residents was sitting on the couch crying, the result of Rafael’s attempt to assault her only moments before.

“Obviously, I have selfish reasons to want this man removed from Harry’s or, at the very least, have someone stationed with him at all times. Could you please relay my concerns to whatever individual at MPTF who can IMMEDIATELY remove Rafael from Harry’s or station ‘sitters’ 24/7 starting yesterday?

“You’ve known me for more than ten years and you know I’m not prone to either hysteria or hyperbole, but this issue is very, very volatile. And you are the only person I felt comfortable writing.”

A separate suit filed in August by the same law firm on behalf of resident Sylvia Mathes claims that she was “physically assaulted” by Palacios in July and that managers of the skilled nursing facilities had not taken adequate precautions to protect her from him, even though the police had been called on at least two previous occasions.

Mathes’ suit (read it here) states that in April, Palacios “was found on top of a female resident and the police were called” and that they were called again in May when he “was found on top of another female resident.” The suit alleges that he was found on top of another female resident on June 16 and that, a few days later, he was “found on top of another female resident ‘humping.’”

Several individuals also are named as defendants in both lawsuits, which claim that the facility was negligent in their supervision of him and “negligently hired, supervised and retained” staff whose job was to ensure a safe place for the residents to live out their last years.

“The remarkable thing here is that in deposition testimony, MPTF’s employees have admitted that rather than protect their female residents from unwanted sexual aggression from a known mentally ill man, the male resident was in effect allowed to roam the halls as a sexual predator of the facilities female residents,” said Stephen Garcia, the attorney representing both plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Troubling, despite knowing of these sexual assaults of residents by this sick male resident, MPTF took no meaningful action to protect their residents — save, over and over again, ordering 0ne-to-one supervision of the male only to then not even provide this 0ne-to-one supervision at all. Motion Picture’s response, literally, has been, ‘It is all part of the disease process.’ So in effect, MPTF actually actively allows a male resident to engage in the physical abuse of its female residents not only knowing it is occurring and doing nothing meaningful, but thereafter, and as they did with the Renard family, lying to family members about the true nature of the assaults in a clear effort at cover up.

“MPTF’s notes actually confirm advisement to the facility from a family member of male resident that while living at home, the male resident would ‘often unzip his pants and pull his penis out,’” Garcia added. “Notwithstanding his prior behavior, the facility’s staff allowed this this sick man to sexually assault numerous residents, all the while the facility and its staff sat back and watched more than 200 episodes of sexual disinhibition on the part of this male resident with the only real interventions being to unlawfully throw drugs down his throat as a chemical restraint.”

A conference case management hearing is scheduled for May 11.

Here is the full statement by the MPTF that was issued later on Thursday afternoon: 

For over 95 years, MPTF has carried out its mission of taking care of its own by providing quality care and essential support to members of the entertainment industry on its campus and in the community.    In this regard, it is an organization without peer. Anyone who visits the skilled nursing facility on our campus can bear witness that our residents are well cared for by a dedicated and compassionate clinical staff, who are supported by an inspirational cadre of volunteers. Many outsiders hold us up as a national model of care. MPTF maintains a 5-star (highest) rating from CMS for its skilled nursing facility.

In MPTF’s Harry’s Haven, a skilled nursing dementia care facility, cognitively impaired residents sometimes exhibit anxiety, agitation, and sexual disinhibition, among other behaviors. No one with dementia gets to choose how their brain responds to this disease. It is our care goal, individualized for each resident, to manage these behaviors humanistically, with compassion and expertise, and to work with clinical and caregiving staff, as well as family members, toward a positive patient outcome. Needless to say, it is hard work and the staff who support Harry’s Haven patients are among the many angels who comprise our nation’s caregivers.

MPTF takes all allegations and reported occurrences of sexual assault and harassment seriously, among its employees, residents, and patients in its skilled nursing facility. We investigate and are committed to taking corrective action in all instances.

We look forward to telling our side of the story and defending these cases in court in February and May of next year.

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