Police in Lantana have arrested an 87-year-old nursing home resident after a staffer reportedly walked in on him performing oral sex on a 94-year-old male resident at the facility. The alleged victim suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was not able to answer the staff or police questions beyond unintelligible responses. Despite this, the suspect reportedly told staffers the alleged victim “wanted him to” do what he was doing.
Nursing home administrators, while declining to talk to reporters about the incident, did say that the media had, “blown the incident out of proportion.”
When it comes to sexual assault of an elderly, disabled victim, it’s hard to imagine making it a bigger deal than it is. The reality is that if these allegations are true, the facility failed in its responsibility to properly supervise residents, particularly where the alleged perpetrator was known to be “oversexed” and had gotten in trouble in the past for groping both staffers and other patients.
Although third parties usually aren’t liable for the harm inflicted upon others by someone else, that can change when the third party owes a duty of care to the victim. In a case like this, the nursing home’s responsibility to prevent nursing home abuse would have been two-fold: To take measures to properly supervise the alleged aggressor and to protect the alleged victim.
Apparently, this is something of a pattern for this particular nursing home, according to The Palm Beach Post. The facility, which ranks in the bottom 20 percent of all nursing homes in the state, reportedly failed to properly investigate verbal abuse from one resident to another in December. In another incident, the nursing home failed to report at least one case of suspicious bruising. The facility is ranked with two stars out of a possible five in overall care.
Although senior-on-senior sexual abuse in residential nursing homes isn’t extremely common, it isn’t something that should be overlooked. Like any other kind of sexual assault, it’s under-reported. However, it may be even less reported than other sexual assaults because victims often physically cannot tell someone what is happening to them.
There is sometimes a tendency in nursing homes to write off such incidents by explaining that elderly people still have sexual urges too. That’s true, of course, and there are cases in which two consenting adults in this type of setting could mutually consent and enjoy a healthy relationship. However, problems arise when one of those involved did not or cannot consent. In a case like this, where the individual cannot speak or otherwise communicate his wishes, it’s unlikely there was consent. This is underscored by the fact that there was an arrest.
When police asked the suspect why he didn’t consider the incident to be rape, he reportedly responded with, “Well, he didn’t push me away.” This ignores the fact that of course the victim could not. An attorney for the nursing home abuse victim has reportedly stated that while he is very physically disabled, he is cognizant of his surroundings is aware of what happened.
The 87-year-old suspect is charged with sexual battery and was being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on $20,000 bond.
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Lantana Nursing Home Resident, 87, Charged With Sexual Battery, July 2, 2016, By Olivia Hitchcock, The Palm Beach Post
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Abuse Common – But It’s Not Always the Staffers, July 5, 2016, Palm Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog