Passionate embrace brings people to tears in Kent County court

Compassionate moment brings people to tears at abuse trial

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (WZZM) - Video was released Thursday of an emotional moment between a caregiver at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and a veteran who was the victim of an abuse situation.

Late in 2016, the 13 Watchdog team asked for any video regarding a possible abuse situation involving nurse aide Laurie Botbyl through the Freedom of Information Act.  We received only a portion of the video.  It was apparent the government did not release the entire video to us when our request was made after we viewed more video available that was presented in court.

Botbyl was on trial on Thursday and was convicted of fourth degree vulnerable adult abuse, a misdemeanor.  During the trial, video was introduced including a heartwarming hug from another caregiver trying to calm the victim in the situation.

83-year old Maynard Mathers is seen in the video physically struggling with his caregiver Botbyl.  The video shows Botbyl placed both of her hands on the chair's handles, pulled the chair in tight and pushed Mathers' wheelchair forward out of her control.  Mathers knees and right arm hit a desk and he's seen on the video grasping his knees after the incident.

Medical reports indicate Mathers sustained minor injuries including a "skin tear" on his knee.

During the trial, doctors said Mathers was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease and could not have understood why he was pushed into a desk. 

Approximately two minutes after Mathers is seen hitting the desk, another caregiver Maria Hughes is seen wheeling Mathers away.  As Hughes tried to calm Mathers he began to rub her face in admiration.  Hughes reciprocated and later gave him a hug in his wheelchair. 

As it was aired in court, several in the courtroom began to cry because it showed the deep compassion Hughes had for the veteran. 

Mathers wasn't just an Army veteran, he spent most of his life in the education field, helping generations of young people develop their skills and learn in Newaygo County. 

The incident involving Mathers happened early in 2016. Criminal charges weren't filed until early 2017. Mathers died just a couple of weeks after prosecutors announced they were charging Botbyl.

Maria Hughes is a current nursing assistant at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. 

Botbyl was fired from her job after this incident.

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© 2017 WZZM-TV


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