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Caregiver Guilty Of Molesting Patient

February 15, 2019
Caregiver Guilty Of Molesting Patient

WILKES-BARRE — The mother of the nonverbal mentally challenged woman who was sexually abused at the hands of a caretaker walked out of court wiping tears from her eyes Thursday afternoon.

“Justice is done,” she said after a jury convicted Andrew Dula, 56, of Shickshinny on eight counts including attempted sexual assault and institutional sexual assault.

“I know my daughter and I know how she acts, and nobody’s going to tell me that there wasn’t something going on,” said the mother, who is not being named to protect her daughter’s identity. “Hopefully she forgot. I will never, ever forget this. Ever.”

Prosecutors alleged Dula molested the 36-year-old woman in 2016 at the Institute for Human Resources and Services care home at 99 N. Dawes Ave., Kingston.

Dula’s former co-workers testified to strange occurrences at the home, including observing Dula walking around in his long johns and combing his hair while singing a love song featuring the victim’s name.

A co-worker also told the jury that she heard the woman, who has the mental capacity of a small child, scream early the morning of Feb. 3, 2016. When she walked into the bedroom she found the woman naked from the waist down with her legs in Dula’s arms, she said.

Prosecutors said Dula, who had been previously warned about unnecessary diaper changes, had removed a clean diaper from the woman and was holding a new one.

Perhaps the most damaging evidence was a video confession played for shocked jurors in which Dula admitted molesting the woman because he was a virgin without a girlfriend.

 

In the 25-minute recording, Dula said he knew his conduct was “morally not right” and “inexcusable.”

“That’s why I didn’t have sex with her,” Dula said. “If I had sex with her that’s way too wrong.”

After the verdict, Assistant District Attorney Nancy Violi said that even without the confession she was confident that there was sufficient evidence to show Dula molested the woman.

“We’ve been confident from day one that we had enough to establish the (crime) without the confession,” Violi said. “It was very obvious. Before that confession even occurred it was obvious to several of the lay people who worked with (the victim) that she was being sexually abused.”

The defense tried to counter the prosecution’s case with testimony by friends who described Dula as law-abiding and nonviolent, as well as co-workers who said the woman had a history of whining and sleep troubles even outside of Dula’s presence.

Defense attorney Al Flora Jr. noted during his closing argument that investigators had found no physical evidence of a sexual assault, and urged jurors to be wary of interpreting sounds from the woman, who he said has the mental intellect of an 8½-month-old baby.

After the verdict, he said he felt the jury was not able to see past Dula’s statement.

“The legal issues in this case and the legal instructions are really just too complex for the jury to understand,” Flora said outside the courtroom. “As soon as a jury hears a confession, that is extremely difficult to get around, even though the law requires them to not consider the confession until they’re first satisfied that a crime has been committed.”

Flora said Dula plans to appeal and that he expects an appellate court — which will examine the facts the prosecution used to prove a crime had been committed separately from the confession — to reverse the verdict.

After the jury delivered its verdict, Violi moved to revoke the $25,000 bail Dula has been free on since shortly after his arrest, citing the extensive prison time he now faces.

Flora argued that Dula has always appeared in court and given no indication that he would flee, but Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas sided with the prosecution.

Dula was remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility to await sentencing on May 9.

He declined to comment as deputies escorted him from the courthouse.

Contact the writer:

jhalpin@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2058