Sexual Assaults in Nursing Homes

Predators often prey on the weak. Unfortunately, nursing home residents represent some of the most vulnerable to sexual assault. Sadly, sexual assault in nursing homes occurs far too often. Such assaults are perpetrated by nursing home employees, other nursing home residents and strangers.

Residents in nursing homes can present easy targets for sexual predators. Many of them have memory issues preventing them from being able to report the assault or describe the assailant. Sometimes, physical evidence of the assault is necessary to even know that it occurred. Many nursing home residents also lack the physical strength to ward off an attacker. As sexual assaults in nursing homes are grossly underreported, the actual prevalence is unknown.

Here in Jacksonville, before becoming a Circuit Court Judge, the late attorney and friend, Jefferson Morrow, obtained a $750,000.00 jury verdict on behalf of a woman who was sexually assaulted by a fellow resident of the nursing home in which she lived. Investigation revealed that the resident had a long history of criminal and sexually inappropriate behavior. Apparently, the nursing home did little to warn or protect the other residents.

Also, in 2018 here in Jacksonville, there were multiple sexual assaults or attempted assaults reported at the same nursing home. DNA testing suggests that the perpetrator was neither an employee nor a resident of the nursing home. Rather, the perpetrator was wearing scrubs, which may have allowed him to enter the nursing home and the resident’s room without being detected.

In an article titled “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes,” CNN labeled sexual assault in nursing homes an “unchecked epidemic.” CNN did an analysis of nursing home inspection reports from 2013 to 2016 and found that the government has cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for failing to report, or for otherwise inappropriately handling, sexual assault claims.

Nursing home operators have an affirmative duty to provide a safe environment for residents. This includes thorough vetting of employees’ backgrounds to look for any history of sexual misconduct. Furthermore, it is incumbent on a nursing home to take all allegations of sexual assault seriously and to contact state authorities for a full investigation. In some instances, employees were caught in the act of sexual assault, after several previously reported assaults involving the same employee were dismissed as “unsubstantiated.”

Nursing homes must also be on the watch for residents who are exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior. Nothing prevents a nursing home resident from walking into another resident’s room late at night as we cannot condone locking residents in their rooms. Mental illness and cognitive decline can result in some otherwise law-abiding persons to engage in uncharacteristic and assaultive behavior. It is necessary that the nursing home take corrective action immediately if a resident acts out sexually.

Finally, nursing homes must be careful about strangers that enter their facilities. As relayed above, it appears that a stranger may have entered a Jacksonville nursing home wearing scrubs who sexually assaulted a resident. There are a lot of people coming and going including family members, outside medical providers and new employees. Since nursing homes have high employee turnover, new people wearing scrubs walking about the facility are a common sight. It is imperative that the nursing home have surveillance cameras at all entrances to the nursing home and that the presence of these cameras be made apparent. In that manner, a predator will be aware that photographic evidence will exist upon entering the nursing home.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to sexual assault in a nursing home, please contact our Jacksonville nursing home neglect attorneys for a free consultation. If we accept your nursing home abuse claim, you will not have to pay us anything unless we make a recovery for you.

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