MELVILLE, N.Y. — A Long Island nursing home hired male exotic dancers to perform for its patients, according to a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County.
The suit, filed March 13, claims that East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon, N.Y., hired “male strippers to perform” regularly for residents.
Howard Fensterman, the attorney representing the nursing home, said a committee of 16 residents voted unanimously for a male stripper to come in to entertain in September 2012.
One dancer was hired to entertain, Fensterman said, and he was paid $250 by the nursing home.
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Fensterman said the residents might be in their 80s but they can decide what they want for entertainment.
Bernice Youngblood, 85, a resident, and her son, Franklin Youngblood, initiated the lawsuit after the son found a photo of his mother stuffing cash inside the waistband of a male dancer clad only in white briefs, the suit said.
The photo also shows other residents sitting near Bernice Youngblood as the dancer hovers over her.
When Franklin Youngblood approached a nurse about the incident, the nurse tried to snatch the photo from him, the suit said.
John Ray, an attorney for the family, said Bernice Youngblood was the victim of “disgraceful sexual perversion” and participated against her will.
The suit said she “lacks the mental and physical capacity” to competently care for and protect herself, and that the facility breached its “duty of care by purchasing the services of male strippers and directing them to perform various sexually related acts … knowing that its patients did not have the physical or mental capacity to consent to such vile acts or to defend themselves against such vile acts.”
Youngblood, who attended the news conference in a wheelchair with some of her relatives at her side, mumbled in a barely audible voice that she felt “terrible” and “ashamed” about what happened but did not remember details.
Fensterman said the girlfriend of one of Youngblood’s sons — not nursing-home employees — had taken her to the stripper show.
Ray said Youngblood’s son disputed that claim and, in any case, that does not mean Youngblood was not harmed by what she saw.
Fensterman also chided Ray for claiming Youngblood was suffering from dementia, while at the same time noting the woman signed a power of attorney document claiming she was competent to sign it.
“Ms. Youngblood suffers from partial dementia,” Ray said. “She has moments of partial lucidity.”
The state Health Department is investigating the incident, a spokesman said.