A 68-year-old registered sex offender was arrested recently after reportedly sexually assaulting a quadriplegic man at a Florida nursing home.
He is facing a single count of lewd and lascivious battery of an elderly or disabled person, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, per Florida Statute 825.1025.
Our Deerfield Beach nursing home abuse lawyers know that the presence of registered sexual offenders in Florida nursing homes – and therefore the instances of sexual assault or abuse – has increased markedly in recent years. Nursing home facilities have a responsibility to take adequate precautions with regard to these residents, to ensure that others are kept safe from their advances.
Such action is critical, considering that many nursing home residents lack cognitive or physical abilities, which makes them particularly vulnerable to both neglect and abuse.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is perhaps the least detected, reported or acknowledged type of abuse that occurs in nursing homes, and yet, thousands of cases are estimated to occur each year.
In this case, which took place in a suburb of Tampa, it was an employee of the center that witnessed the abuse and reported it to authorities. It’s possible similar incidents occurred in the past with this individual, but probably went undetected.
Affidavit reports indicate that the abuse involved the perpetrator coming to the victim’s bedside and fondling him against his will. As a quadriplegic, he had no means to retreat. The suspect reportedly admitted his actions to investigators.
The suspect had been on probation through last spring, and there had been no reports of him violating that while he was being supervised.
Nursing homes that fail to take action to protect residents against one another – especially when one is a known sex offender – could face hefty fines and penalties. Case in point is a facility in Oklahoma, which was recently fined $1.3 million by the state’s health department. Inspectors noted repeated and unaddressed issues with regard to protection of patients from sex offender residents.
In particular, one patient had been diagnosed with intellectual disability and was a registered sex offender with a prior felony conviction. Despite awareness of this fact, the facility chose to admit him and then took no actions to monitor his interactions with other patients. There were multiple reports of “increasing sexual inappropriateness” in touching both male and female patients. In particular, this individual was targeting other residents who were either blind or paraplegic, with investigators noting that the problems had progressively been getting worse.
Yet the nursing home had done nothing.
In situations such as this, it is often recommended that the offender have one-on-one supervision. As you can imagine, this kind of staffing could get quite expensive, and therefore, many facilities may choose to simply overlook it. However, this means that other residents are put in danger.
In addition to the fine, the state health department ordered a denial of payment for new Medicaid and Medicare admissions, as well as a $900-a-day fine until other deficiencies were corrected.
This is a rare situation in that state investigators have clearly identified the issue and are taking a hard line to address it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home, contact us today.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Nursing home fined more than $1.3 million, April 8, 2013, By Phyllis Zorn, Enid News & Eagle
Sex offender accused of molesting quadriplegic at Palm Harbor nursing home, March 21, 2013, By Peter Jamison, Tampa Bay Times
More Blog Entries:
Plaintiff Wins $23M Nursing Home Abuse Claim, April 2, 2013, Deerfield Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog