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Police: Investigation of Nursing Home Sex Abuse in Florida Blocked

When police in Daytona Beach received credible information regarding the alleged sexual abuse of an elderly nursing home resident, authorities sought information directly from facility staff.

Detectives expected the nursing home administrators would be eager to find the source of the alleged abuse, not only to discover who may have abused the victim, but also to prevent further potential incidents of abuse. They would soon learn, however, that administrators were seemingly more concerned with shielding their employer from liability than in protecting patients.

Pompano Beach nursing home abuse lawyers are not shocked by this revelation, given the growing tendency of for-profit facilities to adopt internal policies that preserve their bottom line, regardless of the negative effect it has on vulnerable wards.

Still, it came as a surprise to Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood, who said the administrators’ refusal to cooperate is “despicable” and “shocking to the conscience.”

The alleged victim in this case is 75-years-old and terminally ill. She also suffers from the advanced stages of dementia. The abuse might have gone unnoticed, had she not conveyed to her daughter that she was experiencing pain. She could not identify the exact location or source of pain. But unlike some individuals in later-stage dementia, she was still verbal.

Concerned, her daughter arranged for transport to a local hospital to determine the source of her pain. What the staffers discovered was deeply troubling: The woman was diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted disease. The illness can only be transmitted through sex. The woman did not have the illness when she was admitted to the nursing home, at which time she’d already been diagnosed with dementia.

While it is true that some nursing home residents occasionally engage in consensual sexual relationships, persons with dementia would likely not be in a position to legally grant consent. Further, any relations between a staffer and a patient would be both inappropriate and illegal, due to the inherent imbalance of power.

More likely, however, is that the sexual encounters in this case were not consensual.

A study analyzing the data provided by the Health Care Finance Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) from 1999 to 2001 found that almost one in three nursing homes were cited for abuse violations, with 3,800 of the 9,000 citations issued for failure to properly investigate and report allegations of resident abuse, neglect or mistreatment, or to ensure nursing home staffers don’t have a documented history of abuse prior to being hired.

The second most common was failure to develop and implement written policies that prohibit abuse and mistreatment, and the third most frequent was failure to protect residents from sexual, physical or verbal abuse.

Separate data complied by the National Ombudsman Reporting System revealed more than 1,700 complaints of sexual abuse from nursing home residents over the course of a two-year period.

Here again, this is likely a lower-end reflection of the actual instances of abuse because these are only the cases in which the facility was cited by state or federal authorities.

Such incidences are expected to increase as the population ages and more people seek nursing home treatment and assisted living care.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Police: Nursing home blocks investigation into possible sexual assault against patient, July 18, 2014, By Renee Stoll, WSOC-TV, Daytona Beach

More Blog Entries:
Putting an End to Elderly Abuse and Neglect, July 22, 2014, Pompano Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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