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Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Commonly Unreported

Elder sexual abuse – particularly that occurring in nursing homes – is often misunderstood, if it is acknowledged at all. Victims often suffer from medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s dementia or physical impairment, that make them vulnerable and less able to speak out and report the truth.

Furthermore, while we are living in a time when women and sexual assault victims are increasingly emboldened to report their attacks or harassment, most of those living in nursing homes are not of the #metoo generation.

Our Orlando nursing home sexual abuse attorneys want to make certain victims and their families understand their rights as well as the nursing home’s responsibilities. Just because nursing home staff doesn’t know about sexual abuse of a patient doesn’t mean they didn’t have a responsibility to know about it. It is their duty to hire people whose backgrounds don’t raise significant concerns of sexual assault at nursing homes. It is their duty to properly supervise interactions patients have with staffers, other patients and visitors. They have a legal duty to protect their patients. 

In some cases, even victims who are able to report what happened to them are encouraged by nursing home staffers not to do so. Take for instance one of at least a half a dozen involving a man whose wife was a nursing home patient. According to the Argus Leader, he’s accused of sexually assaulting several fellow patients at the South Dakota facilities where she stayed. One of those, a woman of 55, says she was shocked and scared by the assault. She told a nursing director on the floor, who made the man leave. But rather than report the incident to law enforcement within 24 hours, as required to do by law, the director allegedly urged the victim to “let it go” and promised she would handle it. It was only later the victim learned he was accused of doing the same – and worse – to others, stopped only when a nurse at another facility walked in on him allegedly touching an Alzheimer’s patient in her 90s.

In another case reported in Ferguson, Missouri, an 84-year-old Alzheimer patient was raped repeatedly by a staffer. Plaintiffs have accused defendants in the the case – the company that operates the nursing home, the one that owns the nursing home and the non-profit that owns the land – of failing to properly background employees or reporting or investigating reports of abuse and neglect, according to The St. Louis American.

These cases are egregious, but they aren’t all that surprising, sadly. The National Center on Elder Abuse reports 1 in every 10 older Americans is the victims of some type of abuse. Prevalence is far higher among those who have dementia, somewhere around 30 to 55 percent.

Some states are putting together legislation that would expand on existing elder abuse laws. For instance, Missouri is exploring a measure that would require immediate notification of sexual assault of a long-term care resident over the age of 60. The reporting requirement would also be applicable to numerous other professionals, including medical examiners, funeral directors, in-home care providers and adult day care workers.

If you suspect your loved one may have been victimized by sexual assault in a nursing home, it is important that you discuss these matters with an injury attorney.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

‘Nothing was done’: Victim of alleged sexual assault at nursing home seeks justice, Sept. 6, 2018, By Danielle Ferguson, The Argus Leader

More Blog Entries:

Bedsores, Neglect Alleged Inside VA Nursing Homes, Sept. 25, 2018, Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney West Palm Beach

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