Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

While it is unimaginable to most people, sexual abuse in nursing homes is more than just a vague possibility. It’s a real threat in nursing homes across the country. With the advent of modern medicine, people are living longer lives. And with the cultural shift of both spouses working and thus being unable to care for an aging loved one, more and more people are ending up at nursing homes.

Of course, any kind of abuse that occurs behind the walls of a nursing home is disturbing, whether it be emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual. However, sexual abuse is particularly upsetting. It may come as a surprise, however, that nursing home staff are not the only ones engaging in the abuse. With that said, the fact that the abuse does not occur at the hands of a staff member does not absolve the nursing home staff and its administration from liability if such abuse does occur. This is because nursing homes have an affirmative duty to reasonably protect their residents, even if the threat comes from another resident.

Resident-On-Resident Abuse in Nursing Homes

Earlier this week in Washington, one nursing home director lost his license for failing to recognize and react to sexual abuse that was occurring in his nursing home. According to one local news report, there were several instances of abuse that nursing home staff saw and reported to the higher ups, and nothing was done.

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Earlier this month in Minnesota, a man pleaded guilty to the rape of an 83-year-old nursing home resident just moments after he reached a settlement agreement with the woman’s family in a civil case. According to one local news source, the man faces a potential four years in jail when sentenced. The guilty plea was entered just a few moments after he settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family for the injuries suffered by their loved one.

Evidently, the man was a nursing assistant at a nursing home in Minneapolis. In the morning hours of December 18, 2014, a nurse at the facility recalls looking into one of the facility’s rooms and seeing the man moving back and forth in a thrusting motion. The nurse immediately went to her supervisor and reported the nursing assistant’s behavior. He was then removed from the floor, and the police were called. After conducting their investigation, the man was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Earlier this month, the man settled the civil case brought by the victim’s family. While the exact details of the settlement are not publicly known, reporters were told that one of the provisions of the settlement called for a $15 million fine, made payable to the victim’s estate, if the man ever is convicted of rape again. In addition, the man was required to pay several thousand dollars to the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

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Earlier last month, a Syracuse, New York woman pleaded guilty to several charges stemming from her involvement in a cover-up that attempted to hide several instances of sexual abuse and other failings at the nursing home at which she was employed. According to one local news source, the woman, who was the director of the facility, pled guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence. Her sentence will be determined at a later date. She may face up to four years in jail for her role in the cover-up.

Evidently, the woman allegedly engaged in covering up failures by the nursing home, including destroying witness statements that explained several instances of sexual abuse between residents. The woman also admitted to concealing a patient’s medication history chart, which would have shown investigators that the nursing facility failed to provide one resident with physician-ordered medication. Finally, she admitted to hiding other medical records that tended to show patient neglect.

Investigators have cast a wide net in their investigation into the nursing home’s staff, and charges are pending against several other employees who may have been involved in the acts or the subsequent cover-up.

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A recent online article by the Huffington Post explains that elder abuse is everyone’s problem because the people who are directly affected by it don’t have the means or ability to create any meaningful reform of the system that perpetuates the abuse. Throughout the article, several interesting and startling points are made about nursing-home abuse. Perhaps most startling is that fact that, although rare elsewhere, sexual abuse of the elderly is most common at nursing home facilities.

Some one in ten elderly people are suspected to have at one time suffered some kind of abuse. The most common type of abuse is financial in nature, and it is most commonly committed by a loved one who is close to the victim. However, sexual abuse of elders is a frightening occurrence that may not be as rare as we think—or hope.

Due to several factors, those who are inclined to prey on the helpless are often drawn toward the elderly. One reason is that many elderly victims have no one they can report the abuse to, assuming they are even physically well enough to communicate with others at all. Another reason is that caring for the elderly can be an especially stressful task. Job frustration undoubtedly plays a role in many cases of elder abuse. None of these reasons, however, are a valid excuse for the kinds of abuse that occur each day in nursing homes across Maryland.

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Earlier this month, the family of a woman who was raped while a patient at a local nursing home sued the nursing home facility under the theory that it knew of the employee’s history of sexual assault and failed to take any precautions. According to one local news report, the nursing home employee was sentenced last year in a criminal court to two to 20 years’ incarceration for rape.

Evidently, it is alleged that the 22-year-old employee of the nursing home had previous instances of alleged sexual abuse in the past, and the nursing facility failed to take any action against the employee.

The nursing home complied with the police investigation for the most part and claimed that they “administer multiple screens that all employees must pass before hire, including extensive criminal and background checks, reference checks and drug screens.” However, it seems as though this employee and his questionable past may have slipped through the cracks.

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