A Long Island nursing home is facing a lawsuit from the son of one resident, who says the establishment placed his mother "in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm" by hiring Chippendale's strippers to perform in the rec room. The plaintiff—who found out about the performance when he discovered a picture of his mother stuffing dollar bills into a dancer's man-panties—claims that 85-year-old Bernice Youngblood was "confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her]."
Via the NYP:
The image also showed several of Youngblood's fellow residents at the East Neck Nursing Center in West Babylon looking on with a mix of shock and delight as the dancers bumped and ground for their amusement.
..."Bernice Youngblood has lived 85 years as a traditional Baptist, hard-working, lady . . . And now she has been defiled," Ray said.
...The "vile" incident was done "all for the perverse pleasure and enjoyment of the Defendant's staff," the suit claims.
Youngblood's attorneys argue she "lacks the mental and physical capacity" to protect herself.
And more information, via ABC:
Bernice Youngblood, who attended the press conference in a wheelchair with some of her relatives at her side, mumbled in a barely audible voice that she felt "terrible" and "ashamed" about what happened, but had no specific recollection of the details of the incident.
...Howard Fensterman, an attorney representing the facility, said a 16-member committee of residents had requested the September 2012 performance and the nursing home paid the $250 fee.
...Fensterman said the girlfriend of one of Youngblood's sons had taken her to the stripper show, and not nursing home employees.
Ray said Youngblood's son disputed that claim and, in any case, that does not mean Bernice Youngblood was not harmed by what she saw.
Fensterman also chided Ray for claiming that Bernice Youngblood was suffering from dementia, while at the same time noting the woman signed a power of attorney document claiming she was competent to sign it.
"Ms. Youngblood suffers from partial dementia," Ray said. "She has moments of partial lucidity."
Okay. I have a couple of thoughts about THE DEFILEMENT OF BERNICE.
1. If residents were forced to attend the performance; and those who lacked the mental capacity to consent to attendance and/or grinding were brought in and/or grinded upon anyway; and their commissary accounts were unlawfully raided for dollar bills; and the nursing home staff was genuinely mocking/exploiting said residents rather than genuinely attempting to give them access to the kind of silly, sexually frank entertainment that older people are so often denied or presumed indifferent to; then this situation is horrific and deserves reprimand.
2. But if all of the above is not true, and Bernice could consent and did consent, LET BERNICE HAVE SOME FUN, GODDAMNIT. It seems awfully ageist and paternalistic to presume that nursing home residents couldn't possibly enjoy a goofy strip show. This whole story reeks of religious moralizing. It's been well-documented that people over 70 lead enormously active and fulfilling sex lives. An adult woman engaging in a consensual encounter with a man in his underpants is not "defilement," any more than a teenage girl engaging in consensual sex is turning herself into a chewed-up candy bar. Sorry your mom got grinded on and it made you uncomfortable, but women of all ages have the right to their own sexual agency (provided, again, that they possess the mental capacity for consent).
3. I would really like to hear more from Bernice.
Image via Getty.