Cause of death released for elderly NC woman in alleged sex assault case

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MINT HILL, N.C. — The family of an 86-year-old woman, who died after police said she was sexually assaulted by a worker at the assisted living center where she lived, now has some answers.

According to the medical examiner’s report obtained by WBTV,  Doris Starnes died from, “complications of blunt force injury to perineum and vagina.”

“Originally there was some chatter that Ms. Starnes had contracted pneumonia and that’s what may have been the cause of death,” Mark Jetton, the family’s lawyer, told WBTV. “I think what the M.E.’s report has now done is eliminate that.”

Now the family is waiting to see if criminal charges will be filed against the worker accused of sexually assaulting her.

In May, Willie Shaw Jr., who was responsible for taking care of Starnes, was charged with a first-degree sex offense.

Six months ago, Starnes, who had dementia, was found bleeding in her bed and was rushed to the hospital where she later died.

Doctors determined that Starnes had, “trauma consistent with being sexually assaulted.”

According to prosecutors, Shaw’s co-worker reported finding him alone with Starnes in her room. He had allegedly pushed a recliner against the door so no one could get in the room.

Shaw’s lawyer told WBTV that his client was giving Starnes a shower when she was injured.

He is still being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail.

The medical examiner’s report states that “the investigation revealed that the injuries to her genitalia most likely occurred during personal hygiene care performed by a staff member. The possibility that injury was accidental in manner, rather than intentional, given the described circumstances of the event, cannot be excluded.”

It is still unclear whether Shaw will face additional charges.