Alford plea entered in assault of dementia patient

A 23-year-old former nursing assistant at Garden Courte Memory Care Community on Lilly Road in Olympia pleaded guilty Friday to a count of second-degree assault for shoving a soapy washcloth into a 90-year-old dementia patient’s mouth in July.

Cameron Malizio, pleaded guilty under an Alford plea, which means he pleaded guilty but technically did not admit he committed the crime. In the eyes of the court, an Alford plea counts as a criminal conviction and carries the same penalties.

As part of the plea deal, deputy prosecuting attorney Megan Winder agreed to recommend that Malizio be sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Malizio also agreed to give up his nursing assistant’s license and to not be a primary caregiver to any vulnerable adult. The recommendation for a year and a day in prison was agreed to by Malizio’s defense attorney as part of the plea deal.

Malizio’s sentencing is scheduled for next week. He was supposed to be sentenced Friday, but Malizio’s attorney asked that his client be allowed to have a week with family, including his two children, before he is taken into custody.

Malizio has no prior criminal history.

According to court papers:

On July 9, a Garden Courte employee witnessed Malizio and another employee, Emily Green, bathing a 90-year-old female dementia patient in a shower at the facility.

The witness told her employers that she saw Malizio put a soapy washcloth in the dementia patient’s mouth while the victim’s arms were being held behind her back by Green.

LaTanya Jules, a spokeswoman at Garden Courte, has said the incident was reported immediately to the Olympia Police Department. Malizio and Green were immediately terminated, Jules said in October, after the allegations came to light.

Green was not initially charged. However, since October, Green has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree assault in connection with the incident. Her case is pending.

The Garden Courte employee who reported the incident to police described the 90-year-old victim as “a small, skinny, malnourished dementia patient … too weak to hurt anyone.”

The witness added that during the incident, Malizio and Green placed the 90-year-old in a chair on wheels so they could bathe her. A bar on the chair was placed over the woman’s lap so she couldn’t get out of the chair. She said Green swore at the 90-year-old and that Malizio then turned on the water and didn’t wait for it to warm up, “dousing” the woman.

Green told detectives she held the 90-year-old’s arms behind her back because the dementia patient had struck Malizio in the face.