STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — A woman trusted to care for people with mental disabilities in Stanly County has been arrested for sexually abusing one of them.
Channel 9 started investigating after we got a tip and found out it wasn't the first time this has happened.
"A sexual offense is terrible in itself. However, done to a child or somebody with a disability, that's what makes it the elevated offense," said Detective Hannah Claiborne with the Stanly County Sheriff's Office.
Barbara Bunch faces four counts of sex acts by a caregiver. Detectives said she abused a young woman with disabilities inside a home in New London.
The home is being run as a group home by Elite Care Services. Detectives said the abuse came to light after a group home trip to North Myrtle Beach in September.
"In North Myrtle Beach, there was a witness that happened to walk into the room and believe that they saw the victim and Ms. Bunch in a compromising position," said Claiborne.
That witness reported what they saw, the Department of Social Services got involved and Stanly County detectives began investigating in late October.
That's when they discovered the sexual abuse happened four times in the New London home between July and September.
"You're talking about somebody who, cognitively, is unable to really help themselves or protect themselves and to target somebody of that nature, somebody like a minor or somebody was mentally disabled is heinous, itself. That's why it's elevated," said Claiborne.
According to its website, Elite Care Services runs four group homes in Stanly County. Channel 9 called and emailed the company's CEO. We asked how many people Bunch had cared for while she was an employee and how they check backgrounds but have not received a response.
Detectives said police in South Carolina are also working on a case against Bunch for the alleged abused that happened during the trip to North Myrtle Beach and so more charges could be forthcoming.
We've also contacted the state to see if there is an investigation into Elite Care Services and whether they will face any penalties, but so far have not gotten an answer.
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