A nursing home for the elderly in Long Island, New York, is being sued after it hired male strippers to entertain its residents, it was announced on Tuesday.
The incident came to light when Franklin Youngblood found a lewd photograph in January 2013 among the belongings of his 86-year-old mother, who suffers from partial dementia.
The image, allegedly taken by nursing home staff, showed “a muscular, almost nude male dancer” as he “gyrated in front of“ Bernice Youngblood, according to the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed last month.
"He had a fistful of dollars in his hand and she was putting a dollar in his pants at his demand; he's leaning over her, he's not just standing there, he's intimidating her," her attorney, John Ray, told 1010 WINS.
Bernice Youngblood, who attended the news conference in a wheelchair with some of her relatives at her side, said she felt "terrible" and "ashamed" about what happened, but had no specific recollection of the details of the incident.
Mr Ray branded the strip show "grotesque" and said that employees did it "for their own sick amusement."
He added he has yet to determine who took the photograph, or how it got in the woman's bedroom drawer.
"This might be great for 32-year-old single girls, but this is an 86-year-old traditional, African-American woman," he added.
Youngblood and other patients do not have “the physical or mental capacity to consent to such vile acts or to defend themselves against such vile acts,” the lawsuit said.
When her son confronted staff over the image, the head nurse at East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre allegedly lunged at him and tried it from his hand, according to the legal documents.
Mr Franklin’s brother later called the home, and a nurse told him that the performance was part of an “entertainment event” that was “planned, scheduled and executed by the facility, its agents, and employees and that it was done in 'good faith,'” according to CBS News.
The lawsuit said that Youngblood suffered extreme emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, shame, a diminished sense of self-worth and loss of dignity.
Howard Fensterman, acting on behalf of Cassena Care which owns the institution, said Mrs Youngblood had the option not to attend the event. He added that a 16-member resident committee had requested the September 2012 performance and the nursing home paid the $250 fee.
“These are adults who wanted to have this activity, they requested it, they voted on it and the nursing home approved of it," he said.
The attorney added that she was brought down from her room by her daughter-in-law and enjoyed the event, an allegation that the family denies.
"We honor the individuality, dignity, privacy, and safety of each individual with whom we have the pleasure of working, and we work closely with family members and caregivers to ensure that we stay focused on making everyone involved feel as confident, comfortable, and joyful as possible," the nursing home says on its web site.
Additional reporting by AP