Image Source: WHP-TV YouTube video screenshot composite
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A former caretaker who worked with a nonprofit home health care provider pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges related to sexually assaulting mentally ill and disabled patients, and he faces up to 3,094 years in prison.
The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said that 69-year-old James Zook pled guilty on Monday to 329 counts of institutional sexual assault, 333 counts of indecent assault, and one count of disorderly conduct.
Zook worked as a care director and an activities director at the Faith Friendship Villa in West Hempfield Township in Pennsylvania before he was arrested in November 2020. A resident told authorities in August 2020 that Zook had been allegedly abusing another resident for about a year on a weekly or biweekly basis.
After he was arrested, a total of 13 residents came forward to make accusations of assault against Zook. They said that he would grope them and make sexual comments.
He was employed at the organization for about 20 years, and the abuse to which he pled guilty spanned from 2007 until 2022.
Faith Friendship Ministries Executive Director Tammi Morris told WHP-TV she was shocked by the accusations against Zook.
“I personally went on several trips with Mr. Zook and our residents,” Morris explained. “I observed him doing his job.”
Morris described her visceral reaction to the accusations against Zook.
“So, when I saw the report, the public court summary and the dockets, I was sick to my stomach,” Morris answered.
Morris was asked if the organization was going to change their policies for hiring personnel after the disturbing accusations.
“So, the minimum requirements for someone to work at Faith Friendship, depending upon their position, is already set by the state of Pennsylvania,” Morris responded. “We already surpassed those expectations, so we are going to be more diligent. Are we are going to look longer, harder, and closer? You bet we’re going to, but that doesn’t change the fact that, sometimes, evil just gets in.”
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Carlos Garcia is a staff writer for Blaze News.