BRENTWOOD — A former custodian at an assisted living facility in Rye is on trial on charges he fondled an elderly dementia patient, but he has denied the allegations and claims he was helping the woman pull her shirt down to cover up.
Testimony began Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court in the trial of Hugh McIntrye, a Greenland man accused of sexually assaulting the 86-year-old patient in the memory care unit at Webster at Rye on Jan. 28.
McIntyre, 69, faces enhanced misdemeanor charges of sexual assault, simple assault, and abuse of a facility patient. If convicted, he faces the possibility of two years in prison on each charge.
The state’s case hinges on a report by Webster at Rye memory care assistant Denise Walker, who claims she witnessed the alleged assault through a crack in the partially opened door to the patient’s bathroom in her room.
Walker said she was folding laundry in a nearby laundry room and heard the patient making a loud noise in her room.
The woman suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and is described as having significant cognitive issues.
She was also described as a patient who was known to undress.
After hearing the patient, Walker testified that she walked toward her room because she sounded louder than usual and she was worried that the woman would disturb a family in a room next door where another patient was dying.
As she got closer to the room, Walker said that she saw the patient standing in front of the bathroom sink facing the mirror and McIntrye was leaning into her with his hand cupping her bare left breast.
Walker said she was in disbelief and “numb.”
“I panicked. I panicked. I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
After she and McIntyre made eye contact, she said he laughed and told her, “I can’t get (the patient) out of the bathroom.”
When Senior Assistant Attorney General Sean P. Gill asked her how certain she was about what she saw, Walker responded, “100%. No doubt in my mind.”
He then asked if it was possible that McIntyre was pulling the woman’s blouse down.
“No,” she said.
Walker testified that she didn’t try to stop him, but walked away and immediately reported the alleged incident to administration.
During the investigation, McIntyre claimed that he knocked on the bathroom door to clean and there was no response. He then went inside and when he saw the woman attempting to pull up her shirt he helped by pulling it back down and tried to get her to come out. McIntyre denied that he touched her inappropriately.
Defense attorney Andrew Cotrupi insisted McIntyre did nothing wrong.
“He did not touch her. He did not do any of this,” he said in his opening statement.
Cotrupi tried to suggest that Walker misinterpreted what had happened with her view through a cracked door opening. He also painted her as an employee who didn’t care for McIntyre and had previously complained about him for other things, though she denied making other complaints.
Cotrupi asked Walker if she recalled telling police that she thought McIntyre was “cocky.” She testified that she couldn’t explain why she would have used that word to describe him.
“I was uncomfortable around him,” she said.
The patient’s daughter was the first to testify. She spoke about her mother’s decline and how her condition worsened to the point where she is unable to carry on a rational conversation.
“She doesn’t have the capacity to do any of the things she did before,” she said.
Because of her condition, the woman will not attend the trial.
The state rested its case Thursday afternoon. The trial is expected to wrap up Friday, but it’s unclear whether McIntyre will testify in his own defense.