Nurse Allegedly Takes Photos of Patients Unclothed, Sends Them to Former Co-Worker

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
May 6, 2019 Updated: May 6, 2019

A nurse in western Pennsylvania is accused of taking “explicit and private” photos of patients and sharing them with an ex-co-worker, the police said.

The Allegheny County police said 30-year-old Ashley Ann Smith took inappropriate pictures of 17 elderly patients, some of them unclothed, between May 2017 and August 2018, at a nursing home in Allegheny County, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Smith, who was working as a practical nurse at the Kane McKeesport Community Living Center at that time, was charged on May 3 with 30 crimes, including invasion of privacy and abuse of care, said the criminal complaint.

The pictures showed elderly patients in various unclothed states and some photos were of patients “in need of immediate care and private situations.”

Police also found on Smith’s cellphone a video of a naked patient undertaking a medical process.

“The images are explicit and private, and some have the sole purpose to humiliate the patients,” the complaint said.

Smith sent the photos to a former co-worker, 36-year-old Ron Whittaker, who reported the matter to the center’s management, who alerted the police.

Smith was suspended from her job without pay when the pictures were discovered on May 1.

The accused also faces child pornography charges because when the police checked her phone they also found two nude photos of a 2-year-old girl.

“I haven’t read the complaint yet, and I will be better able to talk about it when I speak to my client,” Smith’s attorney, Frank Walker, told the Post-Gazette.

“Right now, the Constitution affords her the presumption of innocence, and she stands firmly on that,” he said.

Dennis Biondo, executive director of Kane Community Living Centers said the elderly victims and their families were notified about the photos.

Smith and Whittaker were a couple until November 2018 and both filed for protection from abuse orders from each other on Nov. 7, reported TRIB Live.

The duo is involved in a custody battle for their daughter. Whittaker was arrested and charged with assaulting Smith on Oct. 24, 2018, and that case is currently pending.

He said that Smith had “threatened multiple times to kill me and my other daughter,” according to TRIB Live.

Smith had written in her Protection From Abuse (PFA) complaint that she sent him those pictures as revenge for leaving her.

In a similar case, a Pennsylvania woman sued a hospital where she once worked after they took photos of her while she was on the operating table.

Sheila Harosky, 45, sued Washington Hospital, its chief executive, and the doctor performing the surgery, Dennis Brown. She alleged that they committed medical malpractice and an invasion of privacy when they took photos of her while she was nude.

“I trusted my medical personnel,” Harosky told CBS Pittsburgh. “That’s what hurts so bad.”

The hospital, in a statement, said the photos were taken as an extension of a practical joke that she had participated in by placing fake intestines on her body before the surgery, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

She admitted to playing a joke on the doctor, but she didn’t give permission for the photos to be taken.

“She showed me four to six photos of me unconscious in the operating room being prepped for surgery,” said Harosky, adding that a nurse allegedly showed the photos to others. “There was my private parts. There was everything, everything that you see in the operating room.”

Harosky said that a similar incident happened and involved at least one other patient at the hospital.

In the lawsuit, according to the Observer-Reporter, the hospital failed to protect her from “an increasingly hostile and abusive work environment.”

CBS Pittsburgh reported that the Health Department confirms the hospital was cited for violating the Pennsylvania state policy on cellphone use in a sterile environment.

Epoch Newsroom contributed to this report.

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya