OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office has formally charged an Edmond man with Abuse by Caretaker for allegedly slapping a female patient in the face.

Mugshot of Gerald Ngwa courtesy of the Oklahoma County Jail.

A co-owner of the Villagio Senior Center, Jim Morris told KFOR this incident happened in November 2021 between 37-year-old Gerald Ngwa and a resident.

Morris said “grainy” camera footage shows what looks to be Ngwa striking the patient to the left side of her face, above the eye.

Morris added Ngwa was hired on from a temporary staffing agency last year.

“We have the use of third party employment, staffing agencies, so we had gone to a staffing agency. We needed a particular job field. They do the background checks, they do everything,” said Morris.

As soon as the Villagio management was aware of the allegations, Morris said they immediately terminated Ngwa.

“Technically they’re not even our employee, but we terminated the individual and notified all the proper authorities,” he said.

Morris said he has been in this business since 2008, but has never dealt with anything like this.

However, the CEO for the Areawide Aging Agency, Blair Schoeb said abuse in nursing homes isn’t uncommon.

“Seniors are very reluctant to report any problems. Typically, they don’t want to burden that relationship because of the fear of retribution. They may not want to get somebody in trouble, and sometimes they’re just embarrassed. They don’t want to admit that they’ve allowed themselves to be taken advantage of,” said Schoeb.

Schoeb added he hasn’t heard of a case quite like Ngwa’s because “you really can’t strike a senior without leaving a mark, which should automatically lead to questions.”

Schoeb said the abuse can take on many forms, but intimidation is one of the more common ones.

“There’s also emotional abuse. There can be verbal abuse, which are much harder to identify and address,” said Schoeb.

For those family members and other visitors, Schoeb suggests always asking questions though.

“If you have a family member that’s inside some type of nursing facility, you have to be incredibly vigilant. You have to visit. You have to observe. You virtually have to come in with a suspicious mind,” added Schoeb. “You have to ask questions. If you see bruising signs or some type of of hurt, you’ve got to ask questions. You have to make the staff defend what happened.”

Schoeb is shocked over the allegations made mainly because he said the Villagio is one of the better nursing homes in Oklahoma City. He said this comes as a lesson though that this abuse can happen anywhere.

Morris said it’s likely they’ll still hire temporary workers from the agency that provided them with Ngwa as this has never happened before.

Morris told KFOR there doesn’t seem to be concerns amongst the 60+ residents living at that facility. He added it seems that everyone is understanding and sees the comprehensive care the Villagio has to offer.

KFOR asked Morris if there is anything the Villagio plans to implement moving forward to ensure this doesn’t happen again. He said he feels as if they did everything they could, but he said he doesn’t have a “good answer” moving forward as the situation is still trying to be processed.

Morris added the patient who was hit is doing well and still living at the Villagio.

Ngwa was arrested by the Attorney General’s Office and booked into Oklahoma County Jail at 3:30 p.m. on July 22.

Ngwa did post a $5,000 bond and was released the next day at 11:47 a.m.

Ngwa is now facing up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine based on the Oklahoma Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s investigation which included witness statements as well as camera footage. The evidence has “confirmed” Ngwa slapped the resident in the face.