Mentally Ill Man Charged in Nursing Home Rape

In a previous blog from October, our Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys reported on a nursing home assault from earlier this year that shed light on the ongoing problem many nursing homes are facing today—on how to maintain nursing home safety for residents who share facilities with mentally ill patients and criminals with violent pasts.

In January of this year, a 69-year old female resident of Maplewood care nursing home in Elgin, Illinois was found assaulted and raped in her room, allegedly by 21-year old Christopher Shelton, a mentally ill patient from the second floor of the nursing home. Reports stated the Shelton was reported missing during the evening bed check, and was later found in the woman’s bathroom after the assault.

This week Shelton, who suffers from bipolar disorder, pleaded guilty to the sexual assault, and agreed to a sentence of 12 years in prison in exchange for the guilty plea of one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault— a Class X felony. Illinois law states that Shelton must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or about 10 years. He will receive 335 days of credit from his time served in the county jail since he was arrested in January.

Before Shelton moved into the nursing home at the end of last year, the staff didn’t properly check his criminal background, or listen to the warnings from the previous nursing home’s director on his violent behavior. Shelton reportedly had a violent history including an aggravated battery conviction, as well as other aggression related arrests. The Chicago Tribune reported that Shelton was arrested last year three times for alleged offenses that all included nursing home violence. At Maplewood, officials reserve rooms on the nursing home’s second floor for the psychiatric patients—but the separation between floors was not safely protected or monitored, so Shelton allegedly easily found his way to the resident’s room on the first floor.

In May, the victim of the nursing home assault sued the home, accusing the officials of neglect, of failing to screen Shelton’s criminal record before entry into the home, for not creating a safe environment for female and other residents, and for violating the state’s Nursing Home Care Act. James L. Doyle, Maplewood’s former head administrator, was also named in the lawsuit, for trying to cover up the investigation, by claiming that the assault and rape of the resident was allegedly consensual—a claim that the emergency room staff, the prosecutors as well as the police vehemently rejected.

If you are worried that a friend or loved one staying at a nursing home in Maryland or the Washington D.C. area has suffered from nursing home abuse or violence, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us at 1-800-654-1949.

Man Sentenced in Elgin Nursing Home Rape, The Courier-News, December 19, 2009
Mentally Ill Nursing Home Resident Gets 12 Years for Rape of 69-year-old, Chicago Tribune, December 20, 2009
Task Force Targets Violence in Ill. Nursing Homes, Associated Press, October 8, 2009
Nursing Homes a Risky Business, Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2009
Nursing Homes Called ‘Dumping Grounds’ for Mentally Ill, MedPage, March 23, 2009
Mentally Ill Endanger Nursing Home Patients,, March 22, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA): National Mental Health Information Center
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS): Nursing Home Quality Initiative, (NHQI)

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