NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) – A former nursing home employee charged with abusing dementia patients in her care has turned herself in to police.

Ashley Nicole Wilcox, 21, handled patients at Golden Hill Nursing and Rehab in New Castle, according to police. She was charged with four counts of stalking with intent to cause emotional distress and six counts of simple assault and harassment.

New Castle Police Chief Robert Salem said investigators were contacted by staff after several people reported witnessing Wilcox abusing patients.

“To read the report is very disturbing. The elderly can’t protect themselves. This is the kind of case that is very disturbing,” he said.

According to court documents, Wilcox was rough with several dementia patients. On February 29, it was alleged by staff at the nursing home that she put a sock in one woman’s mouth who she was caring for.

Staff members told police that Wilcox also placed her hand over the same woman’s mouth and nose during the week of January 31 through February 6, and she yelled at the resident to shut up. A staff member reported that she had to push Wilcox away from the woman to get her to stop, according to court documents.

Staff also reported that Wilcox pinched a male patient’s nipples because he grabbed her arm, and during the same incident, Wilcox pulled the patient’s shirt up around his neck and mouth and asked him, “Can you breathe?” while telling the man to let go of her arm.

An incident reported around mid-January stated that Wilcox allegedly placed both hands over a woman’s mouth and approached her from behind while the woman was sitting in a chair. She then forced the woman’s head back in the chair while her hands were tight over her mouth for about 30 seconds, while laughing, according to court documents.

The report went on to say that Wilcox was suspended from her job in March after the nursing home had initiated its own internal investigation. Wilcox gave a written statement, denying all allegations, which were reported by three employees.

Wilcox’s attorney, Angelo Papa, said his client is innocent of the charges against her.

“We just saw these statements days ago, and within hours, she turned herself in because she wants to clear herself,” he said.