Revealed: ‘Monster’ care worker raped elderly dementia patients - but authorities don’t know how many

Exclusive: Three police officers probed over allegations they failed to investigate initial reports of rape and sexual abuse by care worker

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Friday 28 July 2023 17:52 BST
Teo Todorovits pleaded guilty to 12 charges of rape, sexual assault, voyeurism and neglect
Teo Todorovits pleaded guilty to 12 charges of rape, sexual assault, voyeurism and neglect (Sourced/The Independent)

A “monster” care worker raped and sexually assaulted an unknown number of elderly patients in a series of horrific attacks across two care homes, The Independent can reveal.

Teo-Valentin Todorovits has pleaded guilty to 12 charges of rape, sexual assault, voyeurism and neglect. The assault charges include sex with multiple victims suffering from a mental disorder.

Some of his victims suffered from dementia and did not realise they were being attacked. The 22-year-old took pictures and videos of his assaults, but some of his victims could not be identified from the footage, The Independent understands.

There are two known victims, and a further 10 unknown residents feared to have been targeted over a three-year period.

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Questions have also been raised over the police response. A detective inspector is among three Essex Police officers being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following claims they failed to properly investigate initial reports of rape and sexual abuse.

Todorovits was convicted earlier this year and the case did not come to light until it was uncovered by The Independent. He is due to be sentenced in the autumn.

‘A monster of a guy’ Todorovits has pleaded guilty to rape (Sourced)

One source described the defendant as “a monster of a guy” adding: “Yes it is horrific, but for the families, it’s the not knowing if their loved ones were among those targeted that’s the worst thing.

“For the families at the previous care home, they knew there were parents involved and could deal with it but for families at the second home, they just don’t know.

“That’s the worst bit thinking your parent died having been abused and you didn’t know.”

Six offences were carried out in 2020 and 2021 at a care home in Essex, and a further six at another Essex care home in late 2022.

Due to reporting restrictions the specific care homes cannot be named.

Todorovits pleaded guilty to two charges of rape, six charges of sex with a person with a mental disorder, two charges of voyeurism, one charge of ill-treatment and one of wilful neglect.

Essex Police told The Independent: “This has been a difficult investigation for the victims, their families, the care homes where the incidents took place and for the officers who have been involved in the investigation.

“The families of the victims are being supported by specialist officers and that support will continue.”

The source, who has knowledge of the case, told The Independent: “I think the level of abuse was avoidable. If officials had done their due diligence the abuse could have been stopped earlier.”

The Independent understands a complaint was initially made to the police after the first offence.

Essex Police said they found issues of concern when they investigated how officers responded to that early complaint.

A spokesperson said: “As a result of a review of the investigation as it progressed, we identified areas in the early stages of the investigation which caused concern and, as a result, we self-referred to the IOPC.

“Since then a thorough Essex Police investigation has taken place, which identified the scale of Todorovits’ offending and ultimately brought him to justice.”

The spokesperson added: “At this stage, three officers are facing a conduct investigation. Those officers have not been part of the investigation since the early stages and they continue to be supported by the force.”

The local authority, Essex County Council, said it has launched a safeguarding adults review into the case.

A CQC spokesperson said: “We are aware of these extremely serious allegations. We remain in close contact with the police, local authority and providers in order to ensure that people are supported and safe.”

The news comes amid growing controversy around thousands of sexual incident reports in NHS trusts. However, CQC data obtained by The Independent suggests a wider issue within adult social care with 1,840 reports of sexual abuse, assault or misconduct reported to the watchdog between August 2020 and August 2021. This compares to just under 900 reported across hospitals during that period.

In 2020 the CQC published a report warning that 16 per cent of 882 reports of sexual abuse in adult social care services were against employed staff or temporary workers.

Several care homes have also been fined by the watchdog over failing to protect residents against sexual assault. In one case in September 2021, a care home provider was fined £363,000 for failing to protect a female resident who was raped by another patient.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “The safeguarding of our most vulnerable is of utmost priority to us and our partners. We always act swiftly when a safeguarding alert is made and will work with a care home to address immediate concerns and put in place actions to ensure the safety of all residents and care workers. We support care homes with guidance, resources, and best practice.

“A Safeguarding Adults Review has been commissioned which will make recommendations and share any learning for all partner agencies. Therefore, at this stage we aren’t commenting further on the specifics of this case.”

An IOPC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we are investigating the conduct of three Essex Police officers following allegations they failed to properly investigate the initial reports of a potential rape and serious sexual abuse at a care home.

“A police constable and a detective inspector have been served gross misconduct notices and a detective sergeant has been served a misconduct notice for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour.

“Our investigation began following a voluntary conduct referral from Essex Police on 21 November 2022. The serving of misconduct notices does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.”

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