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Janitor Charged In Stunning Case Of Sexual Abuse At Riverdale Nursing Home

RIVERDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- They are investigating the unthinkable.

The New York State Health Department has now joined the probe into the sexual assault of an elderly woman at a nursing home.

On Thursday the victim's family wanted their mother's story known, CBS 2's Lou Young reported.

The daughter carries the pain of her mother's assault as if it had happened to her.

"My whole body was in pain. My heart aches. You have no idea," said the victim's daughter, Maria Vasquez.

The victim is 81-year-old Gertrudis Munoz, attacked, police said, by a janitor in the third-floor dementia ward of Hudson Pointe Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Riverdale last week. The sex attack was apparently interrupted by a staff member.

Laura Levy is her grandmother's guardian.

"They found her in a different room, with her back against a closet door, almost in a closet, and she was naked from the waist down," Levy said.

The victim suffers from advanced Alzheimer's. She is defenseless, unable to verbalize a complaint. The janitor was immediately arrested, but the incident brought back memories of suspicious injuries the victim suffered months ago: unexplained vaginal bleeding that in retrospect seems like part of a pattern to the worried family members.

"They explained it away. They said that some patients, female patients, sometimes at that age, have a discharge. This solidified my suspicion, absolutely," Levy said.

The nursing home administrator issued a statement saying "We are shocked that an incident of this nature could have occurred at our center. We offer our sincere apology to the family."

Suspect Jorge Sarmiento didn't come to the door at his Washington Heights apartment on Thursday. He's due back in court next month. The family's attorney said she is looking for additional victims.

"When there's one cockroach, there's a lot more there present," Cheryl Eisberg said.

"We thought she was gonna be safe in that place," Vasquez added.

The nursing home said it's cooperating with multiple city and state investigations.

The nursing home said Sarmiento passed a criminal background check. The ward where the assault took place has no security cameras.

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