A nursing home worker in Missouri has allegedly admitted to police that he fondled a 92-year-old Alzheimer’s patient roughly 100 times before he was caught in her bed by other staffers earlier this year.
According to the probable cause statement, defendant was a nurse’s aid at the home. Victim, who is in the late states of Alzheimer’s disease, is described as “retracted,” usually curled up in a near fetal position. Her alleged attacker was immediately fired.
This kind of reprehensible violation against someone so vulnerable is difficult for many people to understand, let alone confront. Unfortunately, it’s more common than we’d like to believe. Sexual assault in general is a vastly under-reported and under-prosecuted crime. When the victim is aging, dependent and suffering from a disease like dementia, the reporting rate is even lower. The National Institute of Justice reported last year that sexual abuse is one of the most understudied aspects of elder mistreatment. Researchers discovered assailants were most likely to be charged with a crime when victims exhibited indications of physical trauma. That doesn’t describe the aftermath of many cases, though it doesn’t mean they were any less traumatic.
Recently in Wisconsin, a nursing home assistant is accused of second-degree sexual assault of a 76-year-old nursing home patient. According to news reports, the woman alleged she was assaulted around 10 p.m. She later tried to call for help by pressing the call button, but the same aide returned to her room. She alleged she yelled at him to leave and wedged her walker against the door in order to keep him out, staying up all night and waiting until the workers on day shift arrived. The aide has insisted he was only checking to see if the woman was incontinent. However, prosecutors say she was targeted because defendant believed (wrongly) that she suffered from dementia and that she received a medication that might cast doubt on any claims she made. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
But prosecution like this is more the exception than the rule. For one thing, that case involves a strong witness. But for another thing, there is no evidence the facility tried to cover up the incident. The same cannot be said of an alleged occurrence of elder abuse sexual assault at a Florida facility.
News reports are that in Volusia County, one patient was accused of sexually assaulting another. Documents reveal staffers at the site had concerns about the accused, whom they described as “overly sexual.” Those claims were reported to supervisors, but according to state investigators, no action was taken. Further, there is evidence the director at the Volusia County center had evidence this individual was aggressive toward woman at a nursing home where he previously resided. Even in light of that, it’s alleged, no action was taken to reduce the risk to other patients.
When filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit against a nursing home in a situation like this, there are one of two ways plaintiffs can approach it:
- Direct negligence.
- Vicarious liability.
Direct negligence asserts the nursing home actually did something wrong. For example, it failed to properly screen all patients or employees, it didn’t properly supervise employees, didn’t provide enough protections to residents or didn’t respond quickly or appropriately when it received a complaint. All of these represent a failure in the duty of care owed to patients.
Alternatively, in cases involving the criminal actions of a staffer, one might allege vicarious liability. Per the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, companies can be held liable for the negligent or sometimes criminal actions of employees, if those actions occurred in the course and scope of employment.
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.
Nursing home worker admits to fondling 93-year-old woman 100 times, Oct. 7, 2015, Fox 2 Now St. Louis
More Blog Entries:
Advocacy Group to Feds: Stop Funding Predatory Nursing Homes, Oct. 31, 2015, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Attorney