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Abused resident dies before grand jury could indict

Published on August 28th, 2008

The Fort Worth Star Telegram had an article about a tragic situation where an abused resident died before the grand jury was able to indict his tormentor. 

Elaine Doores, a retired biology professor diagnosed two years earlier with Alzheimer’s, struggled to find the right words to describe the abuse she survived.   "He has hurt me a lot. Every time he bathes me. He puts things in me.  . . . He had sex with me more than once. It’s all the time in the bath."

The 68-year-old woman’s statement led to the arrest of Donald Gene Shelby, a certified nursing assistant at the James L. West Alzheimer’s Center where Doores had been living.

Her daughter says the district attorney’s office stalled in handling the case.  "They sat on it while the victim got worse," Pitt said. "That’s the disservice they did to my mom and my family."

She believes that prosecutors dealing with victims who have dementia or Alzheimer’s should try to present the case to a grand jury without delay.

Elaine Doores was placed in a nursing home Jan. 23, 2007, two years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Pitt said Doores had difficulty speaking and performing motor skills but recognized relatives.

Pitt said that on Feb. 18, Shelby told her that her mother was upset the day before because the pajamas that she wanted to wear were dirty. Pitt said she was puzzled because her mother had never seemed to care what she wore.  Later, during the same visit, Pitt said that when she suggested getting "Donald" to help Doores go to the bathroom, her mother became agitated. When questioned, Doores told her daughter that Shelby was "bad" and had done something "wrong."

Pitt said she sought the help of a floor nurse, who asked Doores whether Shelby had touched her. Doores answered, "Yes." When the nurse asked where, Doores replied, "Everywhere," Pitt said.

Pitt went home and told her husband, Deven Pitt, a Fort Worth police detective. At his suggestion, the two contacted Detective S.L. Schloeman, the on-duty investigator with the sex crimes unit, and filed a police report.

Afterward, Doores provided a statement to Schloeman, a copy of which Pitt gave to the Star-Telegram. Doores described Shelby as "scary" and said she was afraid of him. She said he made threats and told her not to tell anyone what he had done.

Schloeman, now a sergeant in patrol, said that to determine Doores’ mental state, she had asked Doores questions, including some about her daughter’s birth date, the current year and where she lived. Doores answered every question correctly, Schloeman said.

"She displayed symptoms of having just a minor case of Alzheimer’s," Schloeman said. "She was able to give me a clear, concise description of what had happened to her. She was able to identify the suspect in a photo spread and identify him by first name."

On March 2, 2007, Schloeman obtained an arrest warrant for Shelby on suspicion of aggravated sexual assault. The next day, Shelby surrendered at the Tarrant County Jail and was released after posting $50,000 bail.

Tarrant County court records show that Shelby was indicted in March 1987 on a charge of indecency/fondling. The state dismissed that case in January 1988 after the accuser, a male minor, committed suicide. 

How could he get a job at a nursing home when he had been arrested for abusing a vulnerable person?  Did the nursing home do a criminal background check?




Joe Pioletti
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