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Canadian senior with Alzheimer’s sexually assaulted while on vacation, family says

By Heather Butts

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — Horrific allegations are emerging of a sexual assault against a senior, who was on vacation with her family in the Bahamas last month.

A trip to Paradise Island was anything but a dream. It turned into a nightmare when the family’s 80-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s, was allegedly raped by another guest, a fellow Canadian.

“It’s just an unspeakable, horrendous, vile, violent angry crime against somebody who is so vulnerable,” said David Ahrens, the son of the alleged victim.

He wasn’t at the hotel the night it happened, but flew in immediately when his sister, who was vacationing with their mother, called about the incident.

The family feels passionate about sharing this story as a warning – they don’t want people with vulnerable family members not to travel, but to do so safely and with a bit of extra caution.

The trip was coming to a close when Ahrens says an uninvited guest joined his sister and mother with their friends for dinner. While heading back to their hotel room, they became separated, leaving the elderly woman alone on an elevator with that guest.

“My younger sister stepped out of the elevator and as she turned around to sort of hand out to get my mom, the doors closed and effectively my mother disappeared,” Ahrens said.

What followed is described by the family as a traumatic event. For roughly 30 minutes, Ahrens’ sister and her friends frantically searched the hotel, floor by floor, while pleading with hotel staff to look at security footage or help find where the 80-year-old had gone. About a half-hour later, their mother and the man were found coming off an elevator.

“Of course my mother was frightened and while we don’t need to go into a ton of detail, but what I will say, and it is horrendous, that she was holding her own underwear in her hand at that point in the elevator,” Ahrens said.

Local police arrived at the hotel and Ahrens mother was taken to hospital, where he says staff performed a rape kit that allegedly came back positive. Local media in the Bahamas are reporting that police have charged a 61-year-old Nova Scotia man, accusing him of raping an 80-year-old woman at the Warwick Hotel.

Police have not responded to CTV’s request for comment. Global Affairs Canada has confirmed to CTV News it’s aware of a Canadian arrested in the Bahamas.

Ahrens says security video shows his mother resisting as the man took her into a hotel room, adding police have worked well in supporting the family.

“Our concern is the combination of Alzheimer’s plus this incident of being sexually assaulted and rape, you know, that’s playing with her mind. So we’re just worried it’s playing in her subconscious and it’s just making things worse at the moment,” Ahrens said.

The family often takes their mother on vacations to allow her to continue to have experiences and live life in a wholesome way.

“She still deserves to create memories even if they don’t last for a long time. It’s also a memory for us,” Ahrens said.

They don’t want to scare other families with vulnerable family members from travelling, but would like to share their message as a warning and reminder to be extra cautious.

“Understand where that person is and how they need to be protected. Ask the front desk what are their security protocols. Ask them where they find security should something happen and what they’ll do in certain situations. Don’t be shy,” Ahrens suggested, after learning from this situation and the disappointment her family felt from the lack of support from hotel staff.

The family says their mother is at their side “like Velcro,” but know you can never be too careful.

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