The first sign of trouble came only about two weeks after the registered sex offender was admitted into Waterfront Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center last November.
Thomas Moore, 62, put his hand on a resident’s thigh in the dining room on Dec. 9, according to a state report. When staff confronted Moore, he denied doing anything wrong with the woman, a dementia patient.
A week later, police notified the facility that Moore is a Level 3 sex offender, considered the most dangerous category. Shortly later, managers learned Moore's earlier victims were disabled or bed-ridden older women.
Moore, a double amputee who uses a wheelchair, was immediately placed on special watch. Staff began checking on him at least every 15 minutes.
But reports of incidents kept coming.
On Dec. 18, Moore approached another woman – also with dementia – in the dining room and began rubbing her thigh, according to the state Health Department report. Again, staff members intervened.
The 15-minute checks continued.
The following week, another female resident woke up to find Moore at her bedside, his hand on her calf, rubbing her leg, according to the report. She yelled at him to leave and a nurse responded immediately.
Another resident reported a similar incident. She said that she had seen a male resident sitting outside her room, watching her. She fell asleep, but was awakened when she felt someone touching her leg – the man who had been lurking. Startled, she yelled for him to get out of her room, according to the state report.
Then, over the New Year’s holiday weekend, Moore allegedly went further, touching a bed-ridden woman under her clothing. She told the staff that “he felt me up from here to there,” and put his hand down her pants, according to the state report.
This time the staff called police. Detectives interviewed the woman and Moore on Jan. 5. Moore admitted to all of the charges, according to the Health Department report.
Even so, Moore remained at the facility. There was no holding cell available for a person with his disability.
He was placed under one-on-one observation, which kept him out of further trouble until Jan. 12, when he was sent to the Erie County Holding Center.
Targeting the most vulnerable
By the time Moore was taken into custody, everyone at Waterfront knew of his criminal history. But they found out at different times.
The administrator reported learning about it on Dec. 16 – more than three weeks after he was admitted to the facility on the day before Thanksgiving. The social worker said she didn't know about his status until Dec. 29. And a licensed practical nurse assigned to Moore's unit said she was unaware he had a sex crime history until Jan. 3.
Centers Health Care, owner of Waterfront, said its management was given no information about Moore's crimes when it reviewed his application. He was admitted “based on his qualifying medical need,” according to its statement.
When Moore arrived at Waterfront from the Fishkill Correctional Facility’s medical unit, he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, hepatitis C and diabetes mellitus, in addition to the amputations of his legs.
He also was evaluated on Dec. 5 as having a severe cognitive impairment, although he “understands and is understood.”
A social worker later said she believed that Moore’s cognitive impairment was not as severe as they thought.
“She believed that the male was ‘posing’ at being more confused than he really was,” the state Health Department report said, and that he deliberately targeted residents who were confused and “avoided the alert and oriented female residents.”
The facility's director of nursing and administrator told state health investigators that the officers who brought Moore said he had been convicted of robbery.
That wouldn't have disqualified him from a room, Waterfront's ownership said, pointing out its facility does not discriminate against individuals for having a criminal record after they are “lawfully released.”
The exception would be if they present a danger to other residents.
Moore's paperwork "did not indicate the reason for his incarceration and the state-required PRI likewise made no mention of his past sexual crimes,” the statement says.
Cited by state
Moore’s situation appears to be unique.
The state Health Department cited Waterfront for not having procedures in place to assure residents' safety when it accepted the former inmate. But Waterfront reportedly had not previously admitted a newly released inmate before.
The Health Department report says that the state’s prisoner liaison worked with the former administrator – not the current one – on Moore’s admission, a process that began in August when Moore had served his complete sentence and parole.
Not many facilities accept newly released prisoners, according to the report, and “there was no paperwork from the prison for (Waterfront).”
The state also cited the facility for not notifying the ex-con, or his legal representative, that he was being discharged from the facility.
Waterfront didn't send a letter to Moore, the social worker said, because “she did not know it was required when a resident was arrested.”
His arrest solves one problem for Waterfront. According to Centers Health Care, the facility tried to move him out as soon as it became aware of his crimes and his predilection for continuing that pattern.
No place would take him and nursing homes are not allowed to discharge people who have nowhere to go.
Even then, not everyone at Waterfront knew that Moore's past was different from the typical resident.
The social worker who reported that she only became aware that Moore was a sex offender on Dec. 29 told the Health Department inspectors that, had she known sooner, she would have formed a plan to contain his activity.
In response to the Health Department citations, Waterfront now has a policy in place should it consider accepting anyone else from the Department of Corrections. It will first confirm the potential resident’s criminal history and sex offender status.
Centers Health Care also says administrators at all its health care facilities have been instructed to review the histories of all their residents, "and where appropriate, to review and/or revise care plans that address the needs of the residents and the safety of the other employees and residents of the facility.”
As for Thomas Moore, the spokesman states, “He will not be returning to Waterfront.”