EVERETT — A former caregiver at an Everett assisted living facility was sentenced this week for raping a resident with dementia.
Kelvin Njeru pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to indecent liberties with a vulnerable victim incapable of consent. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Cindy Larsen sentenced Njeru to 7½ years in prison.
On the morning of Sept. 7, 2021, an employee noticed blood on the bedding of an 81-year-old resident, according to felony charges filed in court. The employee also found a condom on the floor next to the bed. She immediately alerted her supervisor.
Blood had been found in her bed on two other occasions, in June and August 2021, court documents said.
The victim’s daughter, who spoke Vietnamese and could communicate with her, asked her if anything happened, according to court papers. She said she had no memory of anything, and she was taken to the hospital for a sexual assault examination.
The defendant and another male employee at the facility voluntarily provided DNA samples for analysis. The DNA profile from the lab results suggested “very strong support” the defendant was a contributor, according to the lab report written by forensic scientist Kate Zopolos.
Njeru had been working at the facility since January 2021, court papers said. Before then, he had worked at two other care homes in Bothell and Federal Way. Police discovered he was also the working the night shift on the two other occasions that blood was found on the bed.
Twenty-four other residents lived on the same floor as the victim at the time of the sexual assault in early September. Three were men, but detectives didn’t consider them suspects because of their own medical ailments, according to court papers.
The facility was also secured with a locked courtyard, and there were no signs of forced entry into the room.
Njeru was arrested in October 2021 and charged with second-degree rape.
The state Department of Health suspended Njeru’s license as a nursing assistant in November 2021. Records show his license has since been revoked.
Njeru had no previous felony convictions. Under state sentencing guidelines, the defendant faced 15 to 20 months in prison. Prosecutors and the defense both recommended an exceptional sentence that went above the standard range.
The longer sentence was agreed on because of the victim’s vulnerability and because she was under the defendant’s care.
In a letter written to the court, the victim’s daughter pleaded for a long sentence, and she said no other family should have to endure this kind of nightmare.
“I never wanted to put my mother in a home to begin with, I struggled for months about what was the best option,” she said. “It is not only not a part of my culture, but as a daughter I felt I was failing my mother.”
She wrote that the day she received the phone call from the nursing home’s manager about the assault was one of the most horrific days of her entire life.
Judge Larsen approved the plea deal Tuesday, saying the interests of justice were best served by a sentence above the standard range.
“You were entrusted to care for some of our most vulnerable citizens, and you shattered that trust,” the judge said.
In a statement to the court, Njeru spoke through a Swahili interpreter.
“That day I put something in my drink, so my mind was not clear,” he said. “I am asking for forgiveness, because I know when I came home from the job I didn’t remember if I did those kind of bad actions. I am so sorry for the entire family.”
Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; email@example.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.
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