TRENTON — When the mother of a severely disabled man had concerns he was being abused by his healthcare provider, a hidden camera not only confirmed her fears but also started a process to help ensure that other families would not have to worry about enduring that kind of trauma anymore, authorities said.

Office of the Attorney General
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On Tuesday afternoon Attorney Christopher Porrino announced 64-year-old Saddle River resident Dorothea Harvilik had been indicted on one count of fourth-degree assault on a disabled person. Porrino said Harvilik was caught on hidden camera slapping and mistreating a 26-year-old paralyzed patient on a ventilator.

Porrino said because of this and other incidents caught on camera the "Safe Care Cam" program was started, loaning micro-surveillance cameras to loved ones concerned about potential patient abuse without any cost to them.

"The horrifying images of Nurse Harvilik striking this defenseless patient and wrenching his head as she tended to him underscored our need to ensure that all New Jersey families, regardless of their income, have access to state-of-the-art technology they need to watch over their loved ones," he said. "As this indictment shows, hidden cameras not only expose patient abuse, they can provide the 'smoking-gun' evidence that helps bring abusers to justice."

Harvilik is the third person charged with patient abuse in recent weeks by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, according to Porrino.

In February, Adeline Philippe, 47, a former certified nurse aide, was indicted on fourth-degree assault upon an institutionalized person after allegedly hitting and scratching a 76-year-old dementia patient at the New Jersey Fireman's Home in Boonton in August 2016.

Last month, former aide Cairy Chrisphonte was indicted on the same charge after co-workers said they saw her hit an 87-year-old dementia patient in the head and arm at the Daughters of Miriam nursing home in Clifton in January.

Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Lu said in a statement the cases would have "vigorous prosecution," as part of the state's effort to "advance New Jersey's ongoing efforts to safeguard its most vulnerable citizens — the elderly and the disabled - from caregivers heartless enough to abuse them when no one is looking."

Porrino said all three have had their credentials stripped since the alleged abuses. Harvilik's nursing license was permanently revoked by the State Board of Nursing after they reviewed the video of the incident. Chrisphonte and and Philippe both had their nurse aide certifications suspended by the New Jersey Department of Health.

If convicted, Harvilik could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Harvilik is represented by Laura Sutnick, Esq., of Sutnick & Sutnick, LLC.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com