Correction: Lindsay Latour is an LNA. Her job title was stated incorrectly in a previous version of this article, as were those of some witnesses police spoke to. This article was updated on Feb. 12 at 5:50 p.m. to reflect the correct job titles.
BENNINGTON — A licensed nursing assistant is accused of striking a former resident at the Vermont Veterans Home.
Lindsay Latour, 27, of Woodford, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to a misdemeanor count of abuse of a vulnerable adult and was released without bail.
According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Thalia Hudson, on Nov. 5 at 2:06 p.m. she was dispatched to the Vermont Veterans Home on North Street for a report that a staff member had assaulted a resident.
Hudson met with management staff who said Latour had been placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation. They said the alleged victim, Edward Prescott, who was 89 at the time, suffers severe dementia and would not remember the incident.
According to his obituary, Prescott died on Dec. 4 at the Home where he had lived for the past four years. He was born in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and lived in Barre, and later Essex Junction, Vt.
Veterans Home Administrator Melissa Jackson said Thursday she is not at liberty to discuss personnel or patient matters.
Hudson then spoke to a licensed nursing assistant (LNA) who said she was working in the Home's dementia unit with Latour when she came in and saw Latour slap Prescott across the face.
The nurse gave a written statement saying when she came in she saw Prescott had blood on his finger. The other LNAs told her it was from his nose, but then she saw blood in his ear. She went to get a nurse and came back to see Latour slap him. She then told others what had happened.
Hudson said she spoke with Prescott and asked him if anything happened that day to make him feel unsafe. He said yes, then began to talk about something else entirely. Hudson did not see any signs of injury on either side of his face.
On Nov. 11 Hudson spoke to another LNA that was in the room during the alleged incident. That LNA said Latour definitely did not hit Prescott. She said the LNA accusing her is known to be a trouble maker.
Hudson told this LNA that if she was found to be lying, she could possibly face consequences. The LNA then modified her statement, saying she did not see Latour hit Prescott. She then said she did not want to be involved.
Another person police spoke to said they were in the room and did not see Latour hit Prescott.
Hudson spoke to another Veterans Home employee who reported that on the day of the incident, Latour was sent home and was sending multiple text messages to different people, as was another LNA.
Hudson then spoke to one of said LNAs about the text messages between her and Latour. The nurse admitted to having gotten them but did not remember what they were about. She appeared nervous when Hudson said she could request a subpoena to see them. The LNA let Hudson look at her phone, but there were no messages from the day of the incident. The LNA said she must have deleted them and agreed to let police do a more thorough search of the device.
The LNA later told police she had spoken to an attorney who advised her not to let police search the phone.
On Jan. 15 police obtained a warrant to view both Latour and the other LNA's phones. Hudson went to the home and asked for the LNA to turn over her phone. She said it was at home and her son had it because it was broken. When police said they would search her, she took it out of her purse then claimed it was her son's. Hudson wrote that it was obvious the phone belonged to her, not her son.
Police also got Latour's phone and connected it to a device that can retrieve deleted text messages.
They found no messages on either phone, sent or received, on the day in question. According to Bennington Police Detective Anthony Silvestro, this could be because the applications used to send them had been deleted.
Silvestro, who spoke with the other LNA, reported that she said to him, "I don't know why they are making a big deal out of this; the guy is dead now anyway."
Latour was arrested on Jan. 22. According to the affidavit, she said, "What did you find on my phone to arrest me?"