Former nursing home aide arraigned on criminal charges in privacy breach

Ellen Yan of Newsday reports on a disturbing case on Long Island that involves a former nurse’s aide at Woodhaven Care Center in Port Jefferson.

David Rover, 25, has been charged criminally for allegedly using his cellphone to secretly photograph the feces-covered genitals of an elderly resident and  then sending the picture to a nursing student at the North Shore Career Training Institute with a message, “You would not want to do this job.”

Rover was arraigned yesterday on charges of second-degree unlawful surveillance and first-degree dissemination of an unlawful surveillance. According to the court docket, the illegal surveillance occurred on June 15, 2012.  Yan reports that the photo was sent to the nursing student on August 7 and that Woodhaven was alerted to the photo and message by another student at NSCTI.  They confronted Rover, who, according to the complaint, admitted to taking the photo on sharing it.  The nursing home fired him.

Newsday reports that more charges may be forthcoming, however, as inspection of his cellphone reportedly found other photos and videos of other nursing home residents being ridiculed or mentally tortured, according to the complaint.

Rover’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 29.

So this is being prosecuted criminally under state surveillance laws and not under HIPAA, it seems. I’m trying to obtain a copy of the complaint and a statement from Attorney General Schneiderman’s office about the case and whether charging him under HIPAA was  considered.

But is charging this case criminally instead of as a civil matter of violating privacy over-charging because we just find this type of thing so offensive? Assuming the facts are as alleged, should this be considered felonious behavior?

What do you think: should this case be a criminal case or a civil case?

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