89-year-old woman raped by caretaker at senior facility in Hermantown

By KBJR News 1

March 5, 2014 Updated May 7, 2014 at 8:31 AM CDT

Hermantown, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The rape of an 89-year-old resident of the Edgewood Vista senior living facility in Hermantown is causing distress for many of the independent living facility's residents who fear for their safety.

Carol Johnson, who lives at the facility, says residents weren't told about the rape when it happened in January 2013 and, in fact, didn't hear about it until reports came out in the media.

On Tuesday seniors believed the sexual assault would be talked about at the senior facility's monthly meeting...but instead the meeting was canceled without explanation.

Johnson has criticized Edgewood's administration for their handling of the case, saying they're scared of the backlash from residents who are also concerned for their safety.

She says residents deserve to be notified when crimes like these take place.

"A crime that's committed, report it to the residents... newsletters and bulletin boards, many ways that they can notify the people. And I'm not asking for names I'm asking for disclosure," said Johnson.

30-year-old Andrew Merzwski is currently serving a 53-month prison sentence for the rape of the elderly woman.

He admitted in court in January 2013 that he gave the woman medication that put her to sleep before raping her.

Edgewood Vista administrators have refused to go on camera in response to the residents' concerns but late Wednesday afternoon they responded with a written comment saying, "Edgewood Vista considers it a privilege to serve this special group of our population. All of our residents, our families and our communities know that we have an open door policy with respect to any concerns they may have. We assure you that there will never be - nor has there been - any retribution for any of our residents seeking confirmation about their safety and security. It's our concern as well as theirs."

Merzwski's pleaded not guilty to both of the charges against him.
The court dismissed the Criminal Sexual Conduct First Degree charge, but he was found guilty of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree.

Merzwski is serving a total 53-month prison sentence for the rape of the elderly woman, and is anticipated to be release in November 2016.

He is now a predatory offender under the court of law. He needs to pay a total restitution of about $2,000 dollars, and as of May 2014 he has paid about $50 dollars.

Elsa Robins