A private caretaker and a New Jersey caseworker have been indicted on charges that they neglected a developmentally disabled woman who died last year after her weight dwindled to less than 50 pounds.
Debra Sloan, who cared for developmentally disabled adults for 28 years under a contract with the state, was charged with crimes that include aggravated assault, neglect of an elderly or disabled person, theft and criminal restraint.
State habilitation plan coordinator Bridget Grimes of Phillipsburg was charged with the same crimes, plus official misconduct in an indictment filed Friday by a Hunterdon County grand jury. She was responsible for monitoring clients' care and condition.
Tara O'Leary, a 28-year-old woman born with brain deformities, scoliosis and other medical problems, had for at least five years lived in the Alexandria Township home of Sloan, who had a contract with New Jersey's Division of Developmental Disabilities.
Sloan's home was one of about 600 that provide care for more than 1,200 adults under the system. The state says Sloan was paid more than $51,000 per year to care for three women.
According to medical records, O'Leary weighed 95 pounds in September 2007 — thin, but not alarmingly so for a woman only 4 feet 10.
Eleven months later, her aunt, Patricia O'Leary, visited her and found her niece to be gaunt, with unwashed hair and shoes on the wrong feet. She was so upset that she asked to be named legal guardian for her niece, who had not had one since her father died in 2005.
In September 2008, the state removed Tara O'Leary — who then weighed less than 50 pounds — and the two other women from Sloan's home. One of the other women, Erin Germaine, also had lost half her body weight.
In a hospital, Germaine recovered. O'Leary regained some weight, but did not fully recover. She died on Nov. 10. Neither Grimes nor Sloan were charged with her death.
The indictment accuses Sloan of keeping O'Leary and Germaine in conditions "manifesting extreme indifference to human life," improperly confining them to their rooms and exploiting the third woman, Lydia Joy Perry, by making her serve as caregiver to O'Leary.
Sloan also is accused of stealing from O'Leary and Germaine by using their money as her own.
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2 Charged in the Death of Disabled NJ Woman
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