ATTORNEY: Caregiver sexually abused disabled woman - WDRB 41 Louisville News

ATTORNEY: Caregiver sexually abused disabled woman

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A day in court turned into a disturbing discovery for a local attorney.

One former judge and prosecutor explained he never thought he would be the one to assist in getting help for a disabled woman who was allegedly being sexually abused by her caregiver.

Attorney Benham Sims said the victim was in court to support her husband, and she approached him with horrific claims.  Sims said he became involved by accident when filling in for another attorney on July 3, 2013.  He said he was advised the victim was confined to a wheelchair and had a brain tumor.  He said the severely disabled woman was in court with her husband, who was accused of abusing her caregiver.

"She immediately said, 'I want to speak to you alone,'" said Sims.

Sims said what happened next was completely unexpected.

"I wheeled her out of the courtroom and I said, 'What did you want to talk to me about?' She said, 'He's raping me.' I said, 'Who is raping you?' She said, 'My caregiver, he is raping me.'"

Sims said he immediately went to the prosecutor to help the woman because he feared for the woman's safety in the presence of Johnathan Foster.

He said as he was outside of the courtroom with the woman, he saw a very respected and veteran deputy whom he asked to take care of her while he made the judge aware of the situation. Sims said a prosecutor, Nathan Beatty, was very helpful in approaching the judge with him and making sure she was made aware of the supposed danger the woman was put in.

While the two approached Judge Annette Karem, Sims said a Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy was comforting the victim.

"She was calling her 'honey,' telling her everything was going to be alright," said Sims.

Sims said Deputy Darlene Crawford noticed the caregiver attempted to leave when they were coming back into the courtroom.

"I stop and hear this voice say, 'You stop and come back into the courtroom right now!'" said Sims, who called Crawford a "hero."

Law enforcement ran a background check on 36-year-old Johnathan Foster and found an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  Sims said the search revealed that Foster was a registered sex offender who failed to comply with the registry in the past.

Sims said the victim told her she hired Foster around a year ago.

She told Sims Foster was a neighbor. She did not know he had failed to register as a sex offender.  Both resided at an apartment complex off of Bardstown Road in East Louisville.

"She was his prey," said Sims.

According to the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry, Foster had sexually abused a five-year-old in the past.

WDRB went by an address listed as a former residence for Foster on Gardner Avenue in Louisville's West End and found that children lived next door. The neighbor said she frequently checked the sex offender database, but never saw him on there. 

She said she had no clue that he was a sex offender but was scared to learn. The woman told WDRB he moved out around a year ago.

After being taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement, Foster confessed to police that he sexually abused the woman in her 60s. He is charged with sodomy and sexual abuse.

Judge Karem said she was pleased to hear of the way the situation was handled.

"I think that the environment here really helped her feel more comfortable to come forward," Karem said.

"I am very proud of the way it was handled by the sheriffs, by the attorneys, by everyone involved. I think they handled it very professionally provided this woman an opportunity to feel safe and feel that she could get help."

Karem said the woman was immediately taken to the domestic violence intake center where a sexual assault detective was able to talk with her.

"Her safety was absolutely the number one concern at that point," Karem said.

Sims says the abuse charge against the victim's husband was dropped.  Foster declined an interview with WDRB.  He is expected back in court on July 15.

Copyright 2013 WDRB News.  All rights reserved.

 

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