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Man pleads guilty in sexual assault of woman at Heritage House

David Erwin Delong

A male caregiver at the Heritage House in Pequot Lakes admitted in a Brainerd courtroom he sexually assaulted a 78-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease in the assisted living facility, according to court documents.

David Erwin DeLong, 60, Pine River, pleaded guilty July 21 to one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd, after a staff member at the assisted living facility reported catching him in the act of sexually assaulting the woman in May 2016.

DeLong was charged with six felony criminal sexual conduct charges - three third-degree and three fourth-degree - in the case. In the plea agreement, DeLong agreed to three years in prison, an upward departure from state guidelines of a two-year sentence, court documents stated. DeLong is required to go through a psychosexual examination and a chemical dependency evaluation.

Judge Earl Maus scheduled DeLong's sentencing hearing for 9 a.m. Oct. 19.

The victim, who was in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease is now deceased, the Star Tribune reported.

Robert Krause, 60, of Pequot Lakes, the victim's son, told the Star Tribune the family was told of the assault just a week before DeLong's plea hearing - more than a year after the incident. No one at the facility even mentioned the incident, Krause said, during his many visits to see his mother before her death last September.

Krause said he never would have allowed his mother to return to the Pequot Lakes facility had he known about the assault, the Star Tribune reported.

In a January interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, Donnie Anderson, director of nursing at Heritage House, said when the allegation came to light, DeLong was immediately suspended and was terminated within 48 hours of the investigation beginning. Anderson said DeLong passed the criminal background check conducted on him prior to his employment. A search of DeLong in the Minnesota court system showed convictions for misdemeanor traffic violations, but no previous sexual-related offenses.

Anderson, who was not hired at Heritage House until after the incident occurred, said a review of the facility's practices and policies by Minnesota Department of Health showed they were in full compliance with all requirements under the license. The current provider license for the facility was effective as of Aug. 1, 2016.

Anderson said an investigation into whether there were more victims - which she said entailed numerous interviews with other residents and staff members - resulted in the conclusion there was just one victim.

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