Prosecutors request judge drop 'nanny cam' criminal charges against nurses

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Prosecutors have asked for the dismissal a case against a pair of Iowa nurses criminally charged with wanton neglect, dependent adult abuse and tampering with medical records after they were allegedly caught on video neglecting an elderly nursing home resident.

Clayton County Attorney Alan Heavens is pushing the court to drop the criminal charges against Heidi Mueller and Nichole Buckley since the nurses are still being investigated by the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Department of Inspections and Appeals, meaning their licenses could be suspended or revoked and they could be placed on the state registry of abusers.

He told the court that both the inspections department and the Board of Nursing have “special expertise” in investigating the conduct of nurses and that they face a lower burden of proof than criminal prosecutors, according to the Des Moines Register.

Heavens also pointed out that Iowa does not guarantee nursing home residents the right to use cameras and electronic monitoring to collect evidence of poor care.

The case involved 83-year-old Cheryll Scherf, a resident of Elkader Care Center whose motion-activated camera allegedly caught Mueller and Buckley neglecting Scherf for more than 17 hours and fabricating information stating that they tended to her needs and administered physician-ordered medications during that time.

Elkader was initially fined $5,000 — later reduced to $975 — by The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Mueller also was fired from the home.

According to the report, a hearing had not been scheduled on Heavens' motion to dismiss the charges. He declined to comment on the proposed dismissal, according to the media outlet.

In a separate case, Scherf is suing the nursing home for alleged gross negligence and breach of contract. The home denies the allegations.

One of Scherf's attorneys, Pressley Henningsen, told the Des Moines Register, "These videos show what they show. They show what did happen, and what didn't happen.”