Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Sexual abuse in nursing homes is a widespread issue that is often ignored, in part because admitting and addressing the problem can be extremely uncomfortable to the public. Recent reports out of Iowa demonstrate the breadth of this problem, as well as the difficulty in relying on nursing home staff to prevent or stop apparent abuse. A local news report discussing the controversy discussed how the alleged perpetrator, known as “Captain McFeelypants” among staff members, was able to continue abusing residents while other staff were suspicious of his behaviors.

According to the local news report, the nursing home at issue has faced scrutiny due to numerous violations, including its failure to protect residents from sexual abuse. The alleged perpetrator, a male resident with a history of inappropriate behavior, was discovered on several occasions over the course of one year engaging in sexual misconduct with other residents.

Initially, The director of nursing found the suspected abuser groping and kissing a female resident in her room. Although it’s unclear whether the encounter was consensual, the male resident was educated on the importance of consent. On several other occasions, the same resident was caught attempting to engage in inappropriate conduct with another resident. Ultimately, A nurse aide walked in on the male resident atop a female resident, engaging in sexual activity. The female resident, who had severe cognitive impairments, reported feeling violated.

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are facing endemic levels of reported abuse and neglect, presenting challenges to those in the field who seek to provide safe and effective care for our aging population. For all the reported instances of abuse, there are many occurrences that are never discovered or reported, suggesting that the problems of abuse and neglect in U.S. nursing homes are worse than they appear. A recently published news report discusses an instance of sexual assault in an Atlanta, GA assisted living facility that went unreported to law enforcement for over four days, inhibiting the ability of authorities to properly investigate the incident.

According to the local news report, a CNA at the luxury assisted living facility in Atlanta, GA walked into a resident’s room and witnessed another employee on top of a resident with his clothes off, apparently raping the resident. The witnessing employee reportedly told the attacker to stop what he was doing, reported the incident to a supervisor, and gave the victim a bath. Police were not immediately called after the attack was reported. Although the CNA’s decision to give the victim a bath may have offered her some comfort, the bath itself destroyed evidence of the assault and may have prevented authorities from making an arrest once the attack was reported.

Although it appears from the context of the news report that the reporting employee was only trying to do what was best after she witnessed the assault, the fact that authorities were not called after a forcible rape was witnessed suggests that the employees of the nursing home in question are woefully undertrained. Unfortunately, this lack of training and accountability is prevalent throughout the American nursing home industry. Large multi-state companies have purchased nursing home systems nationwide and consolidated ownership and operation of such facilities into smaller and smaller ownership groups.

This holiday season, many friends and family members are planning to gather to celebrate. For our loved ones staying in nursing homes who may be unable to join, however, paying them a visit could both lift their spirits and allow you to check on their overall well-being. After all, when we send our family members to nursing homes, we entrust the care of our most vulnerable loved ones to them and their staff—and we should ensure that they are safe, well taken care of, and looked after.

According to a recent news report, a former nursing home staff member was indicted after allegedly sexually assaulting a resident. The former staff member was working as a housekeeper at the nursing home facility and allegedly raped an 81-year-old resident with dementia. As described in the indictment, the staff member, through forcible compulsion, assaulted the elderly and disabled victim in her room early in the morning. He was charged with rape in the first and second degree, a criminal sexual act in the first and second degree, and endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree in New York.

Although sexual abuse in nursing homes is rare compared to other types of abuse that can take place, it may be because the rates of sexual abuse are underreported.

When loved ones—or their family members—decide to go to live in a nursing home, they expect a safe environment. Most nursing homes care about the safety and health of their residents; however, in some cases, this is not the case. And while individuals are more likely to experience abuse as they age, the rates of abuse are higher for seniors who live in a nursing home. Because of this, it is important to recognize the signs of abuse in nursing homes and report suspected abuse as soon as possible.

According to a recent news report, a nurse at a health and rehabilitation center was accused of assaulting two residents. According to the criminal complaint, the nurse was in the room alone with the two elderly residents and sexually abused them. At least one of the residents reported that she was initially afraid to speak up because she thought she might be retaliated against—which would make her life at the nursing home that much worse. The nurse is facing charges of aggravated indecent assault without consent, indecent assault without consent, neglect of care of a dependent person, and abuse of care.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is somewhat common. According to facts and statistics published by the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, an estimated 5 million seniors are abused each year. And this abuse is more prevalent in nursing homes: 36% of nursing home residents witnessed abuse of another resident within the previous year. This abuse may include psychological abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

Families of nursing home residents know all too well that they have to put a good amount of trust in nursing homes. Families cannot be with their loved ones all the time and some residents are unable to report abuse, or even understand that they are being abused in the first place. Abuse can take different forms, including physical, emotional, and financial abuse. There may be signs of abuse, such as broken bones and unexplained injuries, fear or distress, poor living conditions, and missing finances. Victims of Maryland nursing home abuse may be able to file a claim against the perpetrator, the facility, and anyone else responsible for the harm.

What Are Nursing Home Residents' Rights?

Maryland nursing home residents have the right to live in a safe and sanitary environment free from abuse. Nursing homes are required to report any allegations of abuse to Maryland’s Office of Health Care Quality within five working days of the alleged violation. They must also conduct an investigation and provide a report to the state. Nursing homes also have to have proper policies and procedures in place in order to prevent abuse and keep their residents safe. Nursing homes that fail to report abuse are subject to fines and other sanctions.

Each year, it is estimated that nearly five million elderly adults may experience some level of abuse, exploitation, or neglect. In addition, official reports are only made for one in every five cases of elder abuse.

With this in mind, sending our loved ones to a nursing home can often be an extremely stressful and challenging process. After all, you are entrusting the care and well-being of your family members and loved ones to a nursing home facility and its staff. Sometimes, even with due diligence and research into facilities, instances of nursing home and elderly abuse can take place. When these incidents happen, it is crucial that those who are responsible are held accountable for taking advantage of our loved ones.

According to a recent news release, a certified nursing assistant was charged with sexually assaulting two elderly residents at a nursing home during his overnight shifts. As a caretaker, the certified nursing assistant was responsible for changing, bathing, feeding, toileting, and helping as needed with incontinent residents at nursing facilities. An investigation by local authorities revealed that the certified nursing assistant allegedly sexually assaulted two elderly female residents by acting under the guise of providing assistance with washing or toileting, only to instead use it as an opportunity to sexually assault them. The nursing assistant was indicted on multiple criminal charges, such as indecent assault and battery upon an elder.

While nursing home abuse has steadily increased over the last two decades, sexual abuse in nursing homes goes underreported. Like sexual abuse in other settings, Maryland nursing home residents experiencing sexual abuse may be reluctant to report the conduct for fear that others won’t believe them or that they will face retribution. Although other forms of abuse outnumber sexual abuse at nursing homes, these instances can be severely psychologically and physically damaging to the resident and their family members.

The physical signs of sexual abuse are not as apparent to friends and families compared to other forms of abuse and neglect. However, sexual abuse can result in serious emotional, physical, and psychological trauma. Any unwanted romantic or sexual conduct may amount to sexual abuse. Vulnerable individuals residing in these facilities may not be able to consent or defend against these instances effectively.

Who Is Most Likely to Commit Nursing Home Sexual Abuse?

Many people may perpetrate these crimes against residents in nursing homes. The most likely abusers are staff members such as aides and nurses, fellow residents, and even visitors. Nursing home staff have the most access to the residents and are most knowledgeable about the victim’s ability to communicate what is happening to them. Other common perpetrators are facility residents. This often occurs when the resident suffers a psychiatric disorder or a history of sexual abuse. Finally, visitors, including family members and those on-site for another reason, may sexually abuse residents. Nursing home administrators should take steps to ensure their residents receive protection from those who may have the propensity to abuse others.

Maryland’s nursing home residents are some of the state’s most vulnerable people. Many families place a loved one in a nursing home when they are no longer able to care for themselves, are aging or disabled, and need regular assistance with daily life activities. When families decide to place a loved one in this type of care, they almost always believe they are doing the best thing for their loved one’s health and well being. That is one of the reasons why nursing home abuse and neglect can be so devastating—families who just wanted to protect their loved ones feel betrayed and shocked to discover that they were facing harm in their nursing home. Particularly traumatic are occurrences of sexual abuse in nursing homes. But, unfortunately, such abuse does occur, in Maryland and across the country.

Sometimes, this abuse is perpetrated by a staff member or caretaker employed by the nursing home to take care of residents. In these cases, Maryland families should remember that they usually have the option of filing a lawsuit against both the staff member and the nursing home. But sometimes, the abuse occurs within the nursing home but not by someone employed by the nursing home—another resident, for example. Recently, this issue came up in a New York nursing home. According to a local news report, state officials cited the home for failing to report instances of sexual abuse. The nursing home discovered that at least three residents were sexually abused by another resident, some on multiple occasions, but did not report these crimes.

While holding the nursing home liable in this case may appear more complicated, since no one employed by the home actually perpetrated the abuse, this case illustrates the important potential for holding nursing homes responsible for being negligent and neglecting to take certain actions. Here, Maryland state law may allow a cause of action for the abused victims (or their families, suing on their behalf) to hold the nursing home accountable for negligence in allowing the abuse to happen multiple times and for their failure to report the crimes or take further preventative action.

When someone sends a family member to live in a Maryland nursing home, they trust that the facility and individual staff members will keep their loved one safe. However, incidents of assault in nursing homes contribute to a significant portion of claims of nursing home abuse in Maryland, and staff members who cause these harms should be held accountable for their actions. Maryland caregivers who work closely with seniors should never exploit their position or access to residents for personal reasons.

According to a recent news report, a former nursing assistant was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to abusing seniors in a nursing home. The investigation revealed that the staff member had inappropriately touched several residents in an assisted living center, and was facing multiple charges, including second-degree rape of a frail, elderly, or vulnerable individual, and two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Although officials believe that there were likely other victims in the nursing home, the perpetrator was only charged with the assault of four seniors because the others had either passed away or were no longer able to provide statements, due to their age and condition. In addition to prison time, the staff member was fired from his job and had his nursing assistant license revoked. He will also serve 18 months of community custody, will be required to obtain a sexual deviancy evaluation, and is barred from having any contact from individuals in similar care facilities or nursing homes.

Sexual assault and abuse incidents are always tragedies but can be of increasing concern when the victims are particularly vulnerable, weak, or unable to communicate what is happening to them. Unfortunately, this is the case for many victims of sexual abuse in Maryland nursing homes and hospitals. Although nursing homes and hospitals are supposed to take care of their residents and keep them safe, staff in these facilities may take advantage of residents sexually. In fact, a 2017 report found that more than 1,000 nursing homes across the country had been cited for failing to prevent sex abuse at their facilities, or for mishandling the reports.

The problem can, of course, affect the elderly who are spending their final days in a nursing home and require continual care. But a recent news report details that sexual abuse can occur to patients of all ages, including those who are young but significantly disabled or weakened. According to the report, there have been instances of sexual abuse in hospitals and nursing homes across the nation, with victims ranging in age. One 61-year-old woman, unable to speak from a tube in her throat, eventually communicated to her daughters that she had been abused by an EKG technician. Another victim, 29 years old and severely disabled, was found to have been sexually abused by one of her nurses.

Anytime an individual is sexually abused, Maryland law allows them to bring a civil suit both against the perpetrator and against a larger responsible party. When the abuse happens in a nursing home or a hospital, the victim or their loved ones can bring a civil suit against the institution for failing to take adequate steps to protect against sexual abuse. These institutions have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure their residents are protected, but many still fail to handle complaints in a timely manner or investigate allegations. In order to prevail in a civil suit against one of these institutions, a victim or their loved one must prove to the court that the defendant had a duty to protect the victim, that they either did something or failed to do something that breached that duty, that their breach directly caused the victim’s injuries, and that the victim suffered actual injuries. While this process seems straightforward, the intricacies of the law can at times be confusing to victims and their families, particularly if they are still dealing with the aftermath of abuse. Potential plaintiffs are advised to consult with attorneys with experience in this area of law, who can take the case off their hands so they can focus on healing.

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