A former home healthcare worker on trial this week for abusing his client entered a best interest guilty plea in the middle of the case instead of letting it go to the jury.
Tim Hudgins, who worked for RHA in Kingsport, was on trial for willful abuse of an adult. The charge came after the victim’s mother watched surveillance video from her home and saw in April 2011 what she believed was Hudgins abusing her 20-year-old mentally challenged son.
“The victim’s mom used this company so she could work. She had suspected a previous worker of mistreating her son so she set up video surveillance in her home,” said Assistant District Attorney Dennis Brooks after the case concluded.
Hudgins pleaded guilty by best interest to simple assault, a misdemeanor, and received a jail sentence of 11 months 29 days. That sentence was suspended to probation. He had faced one to two years in prison for the willful abuse of an adult, a Class E felony.
“Most of the footage revolved around a brief exchange, a lot of rough handling involved,” Brooks said. “At one point you could see him twist the victim’s arm and at times he held the victim’s head down near the floor.”
Brooks said the video also showed how difficult it was to care for the young man.
“The challenge to it was that taking care of the young man was a difficult task and presented challenges because the young man can’t talk and has limited ability to communicate,” Brooks said.
Brooks said after observing the jury following the panel watching the video, he was afraid the verdict would be compromised.
“Occasionally in jury trials, I’ll take the temperature of the people watching the case the first time. I was surprised. The temperature reading wasn’t as good as I thought it’d be. The first time you watch the video, you’re sort of fixated on how the victim acted and you see it’s a tough job to do,” he said.
Brooks said the plea agreement also stipulated that Hudgins cannot seek diversion, so the conviction can never be removed from his record, and Hudgins is also prohibited from working in the home health care industry in Tennessee.
“He can’t work in the state of Tennessee for individuals like that anymore,” Brooks said.