Live 5 Investigates: Caregiver charged with biting special needs woman

(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)
(source: Live 5 News)

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WCSC) - A local caregiver is charged with third-degree assault and battery after a Georgetown County family said the woman bit their daughter, who has special needs.

Kathleen Elizabeth Fisher was arrested in November 2017. According to the arrest warrant, "the defendant did commit battery upon the victim Taylor Butler by biting her on the arm with intent to cause injury and inflict pain. The defendant later confessed to the crime." The case was scheduled for trial soon.

Fisher was released on a personal recognizance bond. The case was scheduled for trial in April but has been delayed.

The victim, Taylor Jo Butler, is 25 years old. Her mother Shelley noticed the bite mark and reported it to investigators.

ASSISTING TAYLOR JO

Shelley didn't know her daughter was sick until she was eight years old. Taylor has a rare genetic disorder called San Filippo syndrome.

"Over the years she's regressed," Shelley said. "Her life expectancy is 13-15 years old, and she's 25."  Taylor is defying her diagnosis not only with her age but also with the fact that she can still walk. She can feed herself easy items like grapes and teddy grahams. Taylor can't talk anymore or use utensils.

"A lot of people said, 'This is so tough- why don't you put her in a home?' No. That's not fair to her. She deserves a better life than that," Shelley said.

She hired caregivers to spend the day with Taylor at home while she worked. Shelley and her boyfriend, Corky, thought it was important to have video cameras in the house because aides were home with Taylor as many as ten hours a day. They said the first thing they told any caregiver is that the cameras were in place. They put both of them in plain sight.

Shelley said," "If I'd bring up the cameras during the day just to peek in, I'd look and everything looked like it was going fine."

That was until Shelley found these marks on her daughter's arm.

"The aide had already left and I was walking behind Taylor. I looked at the back of her arm and there was clearly a human bite mark on the back of her arm."

She called Corky to take a look. "First thing I did was try to turn Taylor's arm in a fashion to see if she could do it herself. But it was clearly out of her reach," he said.

FISHER ARRESTED AND CHARGED

The Georgetown County Sheriff's Office investigated and charged Fisher with third-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor.

"That's something a child would do to someone. Why an adult would bite someone is just beyond reason," Corky said.

Shelley started going through their home surveillance video, which stored nine days of footage at a time. She found several instances of Fisher being rough with her daughter, including one in which she yanks Taylor's head back and locks it in her arms to pours water into her mouth.

In another video Fisher slaps Taylor's hand; the Investigator made note of that video in the incident report. Another video shows what seems to be Fisher pinning Taylor's hands under the table with her wheelchair in order to pour water in her mouth.

"The fact that I allowed this woman in my home to take care of my child… that's terrible. I feel bad for Taylor Jo that I allowed that to happen to her," Shelley said through tears.

Corky and Shelley shared the videos with investigators and the solicitor's office. "I have fourteen little clips in addition to the bite mark of what I consider abuse of my daughter. I want her charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult," Shelley said.

'Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult' is a felony charge. We asked the solicitor's office and they said the behavior is clearly concerning, which is why Fisher is charged with criminal activity.

They also said the actual charge is up to the judgment of the officer. The Sheriff's Office said they can't comment on an open case.

The suspect, Kathleen Fisher has not returned our calls for comment.

The company she worked for was Nightingale's Nursing and Attendants. They confirmed Fisher does not work for them anymore.?

PROTECTING VULNERABLE KIDS AND ADULTS

Taylor's family encourages any family with caregivers to get inexpensive cameras to keep tabs.

"You have to have video. Because you don't know what's going on. And they need to be protected," Corky said.

Fisher requested a jury trial for her misdemeanor charge. There was a roster meeting scheduled for last Friday but it was continued because of a scheduling conflict. The Solicitor's office has not set a new trial date yet.

The Solicitor's Office said Fisher is innocent until proven guilty.

If convicted, she could face up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.

In a separate story Tuesday, we will show you one expert's advice for hiring a caregiver and how to minimize the risks of abuse as much as possible.

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