State had no duty to monitor sex offender admitted to nursing home, court rules

State officials were not responsible for protecting the residents of a nursing home where a sex offender was committed by court order, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Iowa authorities petitioned William Cubbage to be released from a state sex offender treatment program into the Pomeroy Care Center in Pomeroy, IA in 2010. Those authorities had no legal obligation to supervise Cubbage, or develop a safety plan for the facility once he was admitted, the court ruled.

Cubbage, 87, who has a history of sexual crimes against minors, was caught sexually assaulting a 95-year-old resident in 2011. The resident filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state in 2012 before she died. Wednesday's ruling upholds a lower court's dismissal of that suit; additional claims against Pomeroy Care Center are still pending.

The administrator of Pomeroy was fined $500 in 2013 by the Iowa Board of Nursing Home Administrators for failing to protect residents from Cubbage. Inspectors also said she told employees they would be fired if they told anyone Cubbage and a second sex offender, John Steinkamp, were living in the facility.

An attorney for the victim's estate told the Associated Press that he disagrees with Wednesday's ruling, and may ask the Iowa Supreme Court to review the case. He said Iowa officials “dumped [Cubbage] in a nursing home where Medicaid could pay for him,” instead of continuing to pay for his sexual offender treatment.

Cubbage currently lives in state mental hospital In Independence, IA, according to the Des Moines Register. Cubbage's case was cited in 2012 by Iowa lawmakers who proposed creating a state nursing home that serves registered elderly sex offenders.