Beaufort News

Woman accused of abusing patients at Hilton Head nursing home

Sonia King
Sonia King

A woman who was a caretaker at a Hilton Head Island nursing home was charged Thursday with three counts of elder abuse after a co-worker saw the employee verbally and physically assault a 93-year-old female patient, giving her a bloody nose, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office news release and incident report.

Sonia King, a Carolina House employee who was fired Monday, turned herself in at the Sheriff's Office Hilton Head substation at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

King, 41, of Estill, is charged with three counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult in connection with an ongoing investigation into possible patient mistreatment by King at Carolina House at 35 Beach City Road, according to the release.

The Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate whether King assaulted other patients during her employment. It was unclear Thursday how long she had worked there.

The investigation began Dec. 31 after Carolina House executive director Rhoneda Maury told deputies another employee saw King physically and verbally assault at least three female patients during her rounds that morning, according to the release.

The reporting employee recorded the incidents on an audio device she had been carrying with her, the release said.

Maury suspended King and called the Sheriff's Office, the release said.

The other two victims were 70 and 79. Each woman was treated, and neither suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the release.

A man who identified himself as the 93-year-old victim's son-in-law said Thursday that the family was aware of the investigation and King's arrest. He said his mother-in-law, a Hilton Head Island resident, had recovered and was doing well.

Holly Botsford, a spokeswoman for Brookdale Senior Living, the Tennessee-based company that operates Carolina House, wrote in an e-mail Thursday that the company investigated and fired the employee Monday.

Botsford wrote that before King was hired, she went through reference and background checks and underwent a drug test, none of which indicated concerns.

King has not been charged with any other crimes in South Carolina, according to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. She was awaiting a bond hearing at the Beaufort County Detention Center Thursday afternoon, according to the jail log.

If convicted, King faces up to five years in prison for each count, according to 14th Circuit Court Solicitor's Office spokesman Daniel Brownstein.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Cpl. Lou Novak at 843-255-3414 or the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777.