Baptist workers take plea
Jeremy Styron
Two women charged in connection with an indecent act in their previous leadership roles at Baptist Health Care Center in Lenoir City pled guilty for failing to report the abuse of an adult and must serve a year of probation per an order issued last week in Loudon County General Sessions Court.

Former Baptist Administrator Cindy Wilmoth, 55, of Lenoir City, and Freda Jo Morton, 52, of Philadelphia, the director of nursing at the facility, were arrested in March on charges of tampering with government records and failure to make a report and were released on $4,000 bond after an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

In the most recent court hearing, Wilmoth and Morton agreed to a plea arrangement of probation upon payment of court fees and making a $100 contribution to the Loudon County Senior Center on the failure to report charge by an order of deferral, known as judicial diversion, that was issued by Judge Rex Dale.
The original charge carried a maximum sentence of 11 months, 29 days in jail. The tampering with evidence charge was dismissed.
“Upon the pleas that were entered in this case, we are in the process of closing the investigation,” Susan Niland, spokeswoman with TBI, said.
TBI began an investigation into Baptist Health Care in April 2014 after a Tennessee Department of Health survey found that a certified nursing assistant “inserted the fingers of a partially inflated latex glove into the mouth of the resident while making sexually suggestive comments in the presence of four other staff members.” According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the patient was “severely cognitively impaired.”
During its investigation, TBI found Morton and Wilmoth directed staff at the center on March 11, 2014 to “mislead the state investigators looking into the allegations of abuse.”
In a report from April 2014, the Tennessee Department of Health outlined eight individual deficiencies at the center related to abuse and neglect and poor record-keeping practices. In June of that year, the state determined the center was back in compliance.
Wilmoth retired from the facility in September after 26 years of service. Morton resigned her post in March. According to Tennessee Department of Health records, Wilmoth’s status as a certified nursing home administrator is listed as “retired” with an expiration date of February 2016, while Morton’s certification as a registered nurse is active and set to expire in August 2016.
Details were unclear as to whether Morton’s failure to report abuse charge and subsequent probation will prevent the former nursing director from working at another facility.
Melissa Franklin, who was previously employed as an interim administrator at Etowah Landing in Rome, Ga., started as Baptist Health Care’s interim administrator in early September 2014 and was named the permanent director in December, according to a previous interview with C. Kenny Cooper, president and treasurer with Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes, Baptist Health Care’s parent organization.
Christina Myers, Wilmoth’s daughter, is still employed with the organization as marketing director of the neighboring Williams Ferry Point Independent Living.
Cooper could not be reached for comment.
According to the order of deferral rule in state law, “... the granting of judicial diversion will ultimately result in the dismissal of the charge or the entry of an adjudication of guilt.”
An attempt to reach Morton at her   residence in Philadelphia was not successful, as the number is no longer in service.
Wilmoth could not be reached for comment.
Wilmoth and Morton’s next court date is set for June 1, 2016.