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Published: Saturday, 2/9/2008

Accused rapist who confessed to 100 sexual assaults, nursing home, sued by families

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Riems is pictured on left in court. Riems is pictured on left in court.
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SANDUSKY - Accused rapist John Riems and the nursing home from which he was fired face at least two new lawsuits this week - on top of another one filed last week - from Sandusky families who claim their loved ones were physically or sexually abused by the former nurse.

Mr. Riems, 49, of Sandusky was arrested Jan. 21 and charged with rape and gross sexual imposition after a Perkins Township police detective and an Erie County sheriff's detective said he confessed to sexually assaulting about 100 patients in nursing homes where he was employed during his more than 20-year career, which began in 1985.

The latest of those patients was a 55-year-old partially paralyzed man whose family reported suspicion of abuse Jan. 19.

Since his arrest, Mr. Riems has pleaded not guilty and is being investigated for an additional 13 cases of abuse in the Sandusky area.

The first suit was filed in Erie County Common Pleas Court on Feb. 1 by James and Vincent Bilgen, brothers who live in Sandusky. They sued Mr. Riems and Concord Care Center of Sandusky Inc., the nursing home where he worked, on behalf of their father, Vincent Bilgen, who has been

a resident of the center since 2005.

The Bilgens said in their complaint that Mr. Riems subjected their father to "severe physical and mental abuse."

Then on Thursday, six more people in two separate suits sued Mr. Riems and the center.

One suit was filed by a man and his wife, who is still a resident at the center, according to the complaint.

The other suit was filed by an unidentified male resident of the center, along with his wife, daughter, and son.

All three suits claim the nursing home is equally compliant in what Mr. Riems is accused of doing.

Dennis Murray, Sr., and James Murray, of the Sandusky law firm Murray & Murray Co. L.P.A., represent all the plaintiffs.

"Every employer has liability for the misconduct of its employee while the employee was in the scope of their employment," Mr. Murray, Sr., said. "In the John Doe case, it's physical and sexual abuse and in the other two it is physical abuse."

Mr. Murray, Sr., said Mr. Riems assaulted his clients in a number of ways, withholding medications from at least one of them until the patient "literally begged for them."

"There were incidents of bruising and unexplained bleeding," he added.

The center's administrative staff did not return numerous calls for comment yesterday.

Mr. Murray, Sr., said the center has 28 days to respond to each complaint.

In all three cases, the plaintiffs ask for total damages "in an amount far in excess of $25,000."

Perkins Township police declined to comment yesterday on its investigation against Mr. Riems, saying township trustees ordered it not to discuss the case with the news media.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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