Sweetgrass (copy)

Sweetgrass Court memory care community on Anna Knapp Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. File

The Snapchat video starts with an assisted-living facility employee hollering "Stupid girl!" at an elderly woman with Alzheimer's.

It's the middle of the night at Sweetgrass Court, a memory care community on Anna Knapp Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. Betty Dick, 82, stands in front of the cellphone camera in her pajamas while her roommate sits in bed nearby.

"Betty, your mama's stupid," an employee says in addition to other insults.

"You look like you 'bout to go meet the king right now. Right (expletive) now," the employee tells Dick, who stands silently, in a separate clip. "You look like you 'bout to reach the light and go forth."

The two workers involved later told their boss they thought their actions were funny. They were fired after the video surfaced in March.

The incident mirrors other cases reported at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the country in recent years. ProPublica identified 47 cases of employees sharing photos or videos of residents on social media between 2012 and May 2016. The majority of cases involved Snapchat, a social media network in which photos and videos disappear after 24 hours.

Nathan Hughey, a Mount Pleasant attorney representing the families of both residents in the video, called it the worst case of verbal abuse he's seen in 17 years of handling nursing home complaints.

"It really is about as bad as it gets," he said.

Matt Yelverton, a Charleston attorney who specializes in elder abuse and is not involved with the case, said the video points to a larger problem in an industry that's heavily regulated. He faults inadequate screening processes, insufficient training and poor employee supervision.

“This type of thing happens over and over, and you see a culture where the resident or the patient is stripped of all dignity," he said. "And the culture allows for them to be treated less than human.”

Mount Pleasant police initially investigated after receiving a call from Sweetgrass Court's executive director on March 23. The video was posted to Snapchat on March 20 and corporate staff became aware of it March 22, according to an incident report.

Betty Dick, who didn't recall the incident, was checked for signs of physical abuse, but none were found.

Police said the S.C. Attorney General's Office has taken over the case. The office said it is aware of this issue but can't comment on complaints or ongoing investigations.

While Sweetgrass Court officials notified police, a state Department of Health and Environmental Control investigation in April found the facility failed to submit a report of its investigation within five days as required. Sweetgrass Court also didn't notify the state Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, according to DHEC.

The probe found the facility didn't comply with laws and regulations meant to protect residents from abuse. A DHEC spokesman said the agency is assisting Sweetgrass Court with completing a correction plan for the violations.

A statement from Sweetgrass Court, which is owned by Five Star Senior Living, said the company takes the matter seriously and holds its employees to high standards.

"Upon learning of the incident involving two of our staff members, we immediately undertook a thorough internal review, alerted the proper authorities and have cooperated fully with the (ongoing) investigation," the statement said.

About two weeks after the late-night taunting, Betty Dick died in a hospital of sepsis due to a perforated gastric ulcer, an outcome her husband of 65 years blames on stress from the ordeal.

"Betty was a very sensitive person," Bobby Dick said. "I know she couldn’t handle something like that. She would just go to pieces, and I think that upset her stomach and led to her being put in the hospital."

Bobby Dick said Sweetgrass Court notified him of the incident March 24, the day his wife was hospitalized. But he didn't learn the full extent of what happened — that there was video of his wife and it was posted to Snapchat — until after her funeral when his daughter received a copy of the video. 

"Betty looked like she was absolutely traumatized," he said. 

The daughter of the other resident in the video learned of it from a former Sweetgrass Court employee. A clip at the end shows an employee trying to open a door to film Florence Evans, 83, when she isn't fully clothed.

Evans, who has since moved out of the facility, suffers from dementia and doesn't remember the incident. Her daughter said Sweetgrass Court's administrators weren't transparent. 

"My mother does not remember what happened," said Jocelyn Evans, a professor of finance at the College of Charleston. "But the point is I will always remember."

Reach Angie Jackson at 843-937-5705. Follow her on Twitter at @angiejackson23. 

Angie Jackson covers crime and breaking news for The Post and Courier. She previously covered the same beat for the Grand Rapids Press and MLive.com in Michigan. When she’s not reporting, Angie enjoys teaching yoga and exploring the outdoors.