Testimony Begins In Case Of Alleged Abuse By Caregiver
WILKES-BARRE — The trial of a caregiver accused of molesting a severely mentally disabled woman opened Wednesday with the prosecution asking the jury to piece together the facts of the case — facts the defense alleges aren’t enough to warrant a conviction.
Andrew Dula III, 56, of Shickshinny, is accused of having inappropriate contact with a 36-year-old woman at the Institute for Human Resources and Services care home at 99 N. Dawes Ave. in Kingston between November 2015 and February 2016.
During her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Nancy Violi alleged Dula, a residential program worker on the night shift, knew the woman has the mental function of a young child and abused his position of trust for his own sexual gratification.
“She’s basically a small child in a woman’s body,” Violi said. “He knew all about her disabilities. He knew all about her lack of ability to communicate. He had access to her — a lot of access to her.”
But defense attorney Al Flora Jr. urged the jury not to be guided by sympathy for the alleged victim’s condition and to take an objective look at the facts of the case.
“All of their experts came up with nothing to support the conclusion that there was a sexual assault in this particular case,” Flora said. “You can’t speculate. They have no physical evidence. They have no medical evidence. They had no eyewitnesses. They have nothing.”
The prosecution opened its case with testimony about the woman’s mental state by her mother and testimony from Dula’s co-workers, who described unusual happenings on his watch.
Tanya Gilroy, 35, testified that for months Dula had a habit of unnecessarily entering the woman’s room at night and changing her diaper when it didn’t need changing.
“They were obviously dry diapers,” Gilroy said.
She also told the jury — over Flora’s repeated objections — that Dula inexplicably spent extended periods alone in the basement of the home. One time when she went to find him, Dula jumped up from where he had been lying on a mattress and she saw his pants were unbuckled, she said.
Another co-worker, Jocelyn Robertson, also testified that Dula had a tendency to change the woman too often and for too long. She presented jurors with overnight check logs showing that the woman was awake extensively on nights Dula worked, and that she slept through the nights when Dula was off.
One morning in late January 2016, Robertson said she was in the woman’s room to give her medication when Dula came in and the woman got “really scared.”
“She went from the middle of her bed to her side of the bed,” Robertson said, describing the woman as crying and grabbing at her until Dula left the room. “He left the room and she was fine.”
Dula is facing charges of attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, attempted sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, institutional sexual assault, indecent assault and indecent exposure.
The prosecution is set to continue presenting its case today.
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