Man admits raping dementia patient

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PITTSFIELD -- A former certified nursing assistant pleaded guilty Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court to the rape of a 69-year-old woman with dementia who was in his care.

Judge Daniel A. Ford called the crime "reprehensible" when sentencing Jerald H. Sullivan to at least five years and no more than eight years in prison for the Jan. 21, 2011, sexual assault.

Sullivan, a 55-year-old Vermont native, had been working at Hillcrest Commons, the Pittsfield-based skilled nursing facility, for about a year-and-a-half when another employee witnessed him inappropriately touching a half-dressed patient with the mental acuity of a child. The woman died on March 4, 2011, barely two months after the assault.

Hillcrest Commons called the Pittsfield Police Department about what happened and Sullivan was arrested the same day. Sullivan was dismissed from Hillcrest.

Sullivan's attorney, Nathaniel K. Green, told the court Wednesday that his client immediately took responsibility for his crime and is "very remorseful very contrite" for his actions.

According to Green, Sullivan did not have a criminal record and has spent the better part of his adult life as a CNA.

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Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Rachel Eramo, citing the "vulnerability of the victim," asked that Sullivan be given a seven- to 10-year sentence, which exceeds the state's sentencing guidelines.

Green asked for a four- to five-year sentence, telling the judge that it was long enough to "satisfy all the needs of the commonwealth and society" and was a "significant punishment."

"It is beyond dispute that all rape is reprehensible," the judge said when handing down the five- to eight-year sentence, "but some are more reprehensible than others and this is one."

Sullivan was given 349 days credit for the time he spent in jail awaiting the outcome of his case.

When released, Sullivan will be required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 20 years.

Hillcrest Commons did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx: aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6249. On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx.


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