The lawyer for the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon, which is facing a lawsuit after arranging and hosting a striptease show at the facility, told The New York Post that although the families of the patients were outraged, the residents of the nursing home were the ones who voted to have a male stripper come to the facility to entertain them.
The attorney, Howard Fensterman, said that the activity panel of the nursing home, which consists of 16 residents, voted to have the event. Residents collected $250 amongst them in order to pay for the performance.
Fensterman is speaking out after Franklin Youngblood, a former resident’s son, sued the facility because his mother, who is stricken with partial dementia, had been “subjected to” a striptease. The lawsuit describes the incident as “vile” and says it was held only for the staff’s “perverse pleasure and entertainment.”
A photo which has been released purports to show his 85-year-old mother, Bernice Youngblood, at the event and sliding money into a stripper’s underwear while he stands over her. The money in Bernice’s hands has been reported to have been commissary account money that is supposed to be locked away. Bernice herself claims that the staff forced her to shove the money into the stripper’s briefs. She says that the stripper came up to her and told her to touch his body, including “his genital area,” and that she was confused by what was happening.
After hearing of the event, Bernice’s family was outraged and demanded to know why such an event had been allowed to take place. Their lawsuit claims that the center’s administrators ignored them. The event was discovered in January 2013 when the photo of Bernice and the male stripper was uncovered in Bernice’s belongings. When Franklin asked the head nurse about the photograph, she attempted to grab the photo away from him.
Speaking today about the incident was June Legister, a Mary Kay Cosmetics consultant who was at the New York nursing home that day on a routine visit to sell her products. Although Legister appears to be smiling in the photo of Bernice placing money into the underwear of a stripper, she claims that she was aghast to see the striptease at the nursing home. It should be noted that Legister has been the girlfriend of Franklin Youngblood for eight years.
Fensterman claims that Legister was at the nursing home that day as a chaperone for Bernice and that both attended the show knowingly.
Bernice Youngblood also spoke with reporters today and although she was not able to recall details of the event, she said that the incident had caused her to feel “terrible” and “ashamed.”
The lawsuit filed by the family is seeking several million dollars in damages for the mental anguish, loss of dignity, extreme emotional distress, shame and humiliation that Bernice suffered due to the incident.
For their part, the New York nursing home states that the event was strictly an optional event, had been advertised in signs placed around the facility days before the event, and was held in a public area.
The state health department is investigating the incident.
By Jennifer Pfalz