An Orange County jury determined late Friday that an Orlando nursing home defamed the son of an Alzheimer's patient by alleging the man had sexually abused and mistreated his mother at the home. The six-member jury awarded Lawrence DeStefano $1 million to compensate him for his loss of reputation and later awarded him another $1 million in punitive damages. He was deemed 50 percent responsible because he spoke openly about the false allegations, and he will receive half of the initial $1 million award. The operator of the nursing home is Sunbelt Healthcare & Subacute Center and Rollins Bedford Corp. Sunbelt and Rollins Bedford are owned by Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corp., which owns and operates Florida Hospital. The nursing home has since been demolished, but Rollins Bedford operates other facilities in Central Florida. The complaint stems from a Sept. 19, 1999, incident in which DeStefano brought his 71-year-old mother, Carolina, to Florida Hospital Orlando for treatment. She was transferred to the nursing home, across the street. Lawrence DeStefano became upset when he said the nursing staff failed to dress a wound on his mother's right heel. The nursing staff became upset at his insistence to treat her, he claimed, and retaliated by making "fraudulent, false and malicious" statements about his relationship with his mother. "I didn't molest my mother," DeStefano said outside the courtroom. The nurses had reported to the state Department of Children & Families that DeStefano was caught "giving his mother a passionate kiss on the lips which lasted for an extended time." They reported indications of sexual abuse. But jurors did not believe the nursing home's account. They also cleared Orlando Regional Medical Center, which reported the nursing home's allegations to police when the woman was later transferred to that hospital. Orlando police found no criminal conduct, and DCF found no evidence of abuse by DeStefano. The nurses who initially reported DeStefano no longer work for the company. Tracy Marshall, the attorney for Rollins Bedford, said her legal team and her client will review what to do next. Marshall has several motions pending before the judge hearing this case, including a motion for a mistrial and a reduction of the verdict. Orange Circuit Judge Renee Roche has not ruled on those motions. "In our professional assessment, the case was obviously different than what the outcome was, and we're considering all of our options with our clients," Marshall said, when asked if she planned to file an appeal. During the trial, Marshall argued that nursing staff at the nursing home were simply reporting suspicious behavior, not trying to slander their patient's son. Asked if Friday's verdict might have a chilling effect on other medical providers who suspect abuse, Marshall said, "Certainly, that's a concern." She had earlier told the jury that the company's staff would continue reporting suspected abuse. But DeStefano's attorney argued that the nursing home abused its power to report misconduct by making claims that never occurred in the DeStefano case. "This umbrella that's supposed to protect people became a sword," attorney William Osborne told jurors. "You can, as a jury, send a message to the boardroom at Rollins Bedford that says, 'You can't do this anymore.' "