Nurse Allegedly Took Nude Photos Of Elderly Patients; Sent Pics To Her Boyfriend
Ashley Ann Smith is charged with 30 crimes; cops say they also found “pornographic” images of a two-year-old on her phone.
PITTSBURGH, PA — A Pennsylvania nurse has been arrested for allegedly taking “explicit and private” photographs of at least 17 elderly nursing home patients and sending the images to her boyfriend. In addition, she faces child pornography charges after police reportedly found explicit images of a two-year-old girl on her phone.
Ashley Ann Smith, 30, had worked as a licensed practical nurse at Kane McKeesport Community Living Center since 2015. She has now been charged with 30 crimes over the photos of her patients, including multiple counts of abuse of care and invasion of privacy, as well as possession of child pornography.
Police say Smith took photos at least 17 patients in various states of undress between May 2017 and August '18. She then allegedly sent the images to Ron Whittaker, 36, a former coworker and the father of her child.
According to the criminal complaint, “The images are explicit and private, and some have the sole purpose to humiliate the patients,” and some of the victims appear to be “in need of immediate care and private situations.”
In addition, the complaint states, “There was a video of a medical procedure performed on one of the victims while the patient was naked. None of the photos or video appear to have any medical or lawful useful purpose.”
Investigators also reported that some of the images were accompanied by derogatory comments and captions.
In all, police say they found 19 images and one video of elder abuse, along with two “pornographic” photos of a two-year-old, one of which was captioned, “My view now.” It is not known if the child in the photo is Smith’s daughter.
Legal documents say Whittaker reported Smith to hospital administrators, who then contacted the authorities. Whittaker has not been charged with a crime in this incident, but he was arrested in October 2018 for allegedly assaulting Smith. That case remains pending. After splitting up in November, Whittaker and Smith have been in a custody battle over their daughter.
The hospital released an official statement this week, reading, “Ashley Smith was a nursing assistant at the Kane McKeesport Center, hired in June of 2015. The administrator there was notified of the allegation on April 5, immediately turned the information over to County Police, indefinitely suspended the employee without pay pending investigation, and notified licensing authorities. Earlier this week, police detectives advised that the allegations were founded and that charges would be forthcoming. She was terminated that same date (May 1, 2019).”
Family members of some of Smith’s alleged victims have complained that the nursing home did not properly inform them of the severity of the situation.
Lori Rushe, whose 90-year-old father suffers from dementia and is reportedly among those photographed, said that the facility had only mentioned “unauthorized” photos.
After learning the extent of the allegations, Rushe told a reporter, “I think that’s pretty heinous. That is total elder abuse,” she told the outlet. “I could see that he could be easily manipulated. You’re taking advantage of people who don’t know their name, where they’re at, or anything. That is so disturbing.”
Smith reportedly turned herself in to the police on May 3. Frank Walker, her attorney, said, “Right now, the Constitution affords her the presumption of innocence, and she stands firmly on that.”