Iowa nursing home fined for sex offender lapse

DES MOINES (AP) — A central Iowa nursing home has been fined $2,150 for failing to protect residents from a registered sex offender for a second time in a three-month period.

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services began imposing a daily $50 fine on the Gowrie Care Center in Gowrie, Iowa, shortly after learning of a Sept. 27 incident involving an 80-year-old registered sex offender, The Des Moines Register reported Saturday.

Investigators say the offender, who has three convictions for lascivious acts against children, was seen by a federal inspector approaching a child who visited the home in August. The home was fined $500 for failing to follow a safety plan it had put in place earlier in the year to protect people from the sex offender.

In response, the nursing home revised its safety plan regarding the elderly sex offender — not by increasing his supervision, but by removing requirements for staff to monitor the man and check on his whereabouts every 30 minutes.

Then, on Sept. 27, the man was found in bed with a resident with whom he shared a room.

The offender was immediately moved to a different room and the 30-minute checks on him were reinstated, but a visit by a state inspector days later revealed that the offender’s new room was next door to the alleged victim’s. The state inspector also said the home’s director of nursing acknowledged that the offender had been continuing to try to enter the room of his alleged victim.

That led to the daily $50 fine, which was lifted Nov. 18. In all, the home was assessed a total penalty of $2,150.

It’s not clear whether officials plan to bring charges against the registered sex offender. No recent charges against him appear on online court records.

Iowa lawmakers approved a bill earlier this year that would create a committee to study alternatives to placing sex offenders and violent criminals in traditional care facilities. Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed the legislation, saying he had his own panel to study the issue.