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Worker charged with fondling patient

A certified nursing assistant accused of fondling a female patient at an area assisted living facility has been charged with sexual battery.

Brian Keith Dale, 36, of 5910 18th St., Zephyrhills, was charged early Thursday morning and booked into the Land O'Lakes jail, where he remained in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Dale is accused of committing sexual battery on a patient age 12 or older at the Serenity West assisted living facility in Zephyrhills, according to a Zephyrhills police report.

A fellow employee of Dale's walked into the victim's room in November and found Dale fondling the physically and mentally disabled patient, the report said.

When the fellow employee yelled and asked Dale what he was doing, Dale said he was cleaning the patient, even though the fellow employee saw no cleaning items, the report said.

Dale denied the allegations, the report said.

Because the patient cannot speak, police could not question her, the report said.

Dale was immediately suspended without pay after the accusation and recently fired, said William Tapella, administrator of the 48-bed facility. Tapella said that Dale was a nursing assistant but could not say how long he was employed at Serenity West.

Dale's arrest record is clean except for a DUI charge in 2000.

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