A Kenyan man who previously worked at a Smithfield Assisted Living Center was found guilty of rape Thursday by a Johnston County Jury and sentenced to prison.
Joseph Ngigi Kariuki of Clayton was arrested on December 19, 2019 for the rape of a 79 year-old patient at Brookdale Senior Living on Berkshire Road.
The jury found Kariuki guilty of first-degree forcible rape. Kariuki was a caretaker at the facility when the crime occurred.
Around 2:55am on the morning of the incident, police were called to Brooksdale Senior Living by another employee. A supervisor detained the suspect until police officers arrived.
The victim suffered from Alzheimer’s disease when she was raped. The victim died before the trial took place.
Prosecutors said the victim’s family members, who were present during the trial, were shocked and traumatized by the brutal assault of their loved one.
After the guilty verdict, Superior Court Judge Clair Hill sentenced the defendant to serve a minimum of 20 years to a maximum of 29 years in state prison.
“The Johnston County District Attorney’s Office is pleased with the verdict and the sentence imposed. We hope that this helps restore some measure of dignity to this incredible lady whose life was full of such tremendous love. Our office also hopes the victim’s family members find a measure of justice in this outcome,” said Assistant District Attorney Caitlin Slavin.
“We are now confident that this predator will never again be able to harm a member of our community. The District Attorney’s office thanks lead investigator Lt. Terry West and the Smithfield Police Department for their hard work and all of the jurors for their thoughtfulness and service.,“ Slavin stated.
According to the Smithfield Police Department, officers were called to the Brookdale Senior Living facility on Berkshire Road around 3am on December 19, 2019 to investigate the assault.
A supervisor at the facility detained the suspect as soon as the allegation was made, and the suspect was removed from the facility as police investigated.
“We are saddened by these allegations, as having the trust of our residents and their families is extremely important to us,” Brookdale administrators said in a statement.
It added that they take the safety and well-being of its residents very seriously. “Inappropriate conduct or behaviour is never tolerated and is dealt with swiftly,” the facility said.
“Our company has thorough employment standards in place, including background checks, complying with state rules and regulations, and ongoing training of employees. Our hiring policies were followed in regard to this individual.”
Police charged Kariuki with second-degree forcible rape and was held in the Johnston County jail under Sh10 million ($100,000) bond.