The public always reacts with shock upon learning that another helpless nursing patient was sexually assaulted by the person paid to provide his or her case. What the public is oblivious to, however, is just how common this occurrence has become and why it is so important to take every precaution possible before trusting others with the safety of those who you hold dear. We would all like to believe that the nursing home administrators, health inspectors and government agencies are working diligently on behalf of the victims of these heinous crimes, but many of the victims are deprived of a voice, and the perpetrators walk free.
How Nursing Homes and Authorities are Turning a Blind Eye to the Issue
It is terrifying to think that our loved ones are vulnerable to the whims of sexual predators when they are in their weakest state. Thousands of nursing home patients find themselves with medical conditions or injuries that make it impossible for them to fight back when caregivers, other residents or even their friends or family members commit unthinkable acts toward them. We would like to believe that steps are being taken to prevent the abuse and to bring justice to those who commit these deeds.
From failed hiring practices to staff members who fail to report assaults to police officers who do not take accusations seriously, there is a systemic failure throughout the nursing care industry to protect the elderly from one of the most horrendous crimes they can endure. Here are some of the ways our nursing homes and the agencies that provide oversight are failing us.
- Nursing home administrators don’t act on the information they have or attempt to cover up an incident for fear of blowback. Rather than lookout for the interests of the victim, the administrators delay an investigation or deny allegations.
- Failure of police to take the claims seriously. Police officers feel that it is unrealistic for an elderly victim to be assaulted in this manner and may walk away from the scene without investigating to corroborate or refute the claims.
- The inability of government agencies to enforce policies that would otherwise protect the elderly. Laws are only effective if they are enforced, and many of the patterns of abuse that would raise red flags go unnoticed because the agencies do not have the manpower to provide proper oversight.
The Elderly are Viewed as Easy Prey
One of the reasons sexual predators may target the elderly is that they are incapable of fighting back. They are more likely to suffer from dementia or other neurological disorders that the abuser can use against them to make it seem as if their claims of abuse are contrived. In the case of Maya Fischer, who was assaulted at the age of 83, authorities discovered that her abuser had a long history of assaulting other victims who were in a similar state.
Records also indicated he was suspended on multiple occasions due to allegations of misconduct with other patients. Somehow, he managed to remain employed at the same nursing home despite an emerging pattern of abuse. While he was removed promptly following the assault of Fischer, this may have come too late.
One of the loopholes that allowed this sexual predator to remain out of the public eye for so long was that the state health department was not allowed to release the names of those who were accused of this type of behavior, regardless of whether the accused were the subject of numerous investigations.
The Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases Leads to the Abusers Walking Free
An investigation into the handling of sexual assault cases in nursing homes across the country found that there were over 1,000 different nursing homes that received complaints or citations because they didn’t handle sexual assault allegations properly. The victims are rarely taken seriously, and little to no evidence is recoverable which would allow them to launch an investigation. It often becomes the victim’s word versus the perpetrator’s.
Illinois recently enacted a law that would allow families to install cameras in their loved ones’ rooms so that they can catch abusers in the act and bring them to justice. So long as the family pays for the installation of the camera and its operation, these nanny cams are an effective option for anyone who is concerned about the possibility of their loved one becoming a victim.
Sexual Assault of Elderly Patients is not a New Phenomena
For those who think that the rise in the number of sexual assault cases in nursing care centers is something new, they may be surprised to learn that there is evidence of a trend that goes back decades. Wherever the vulnerable reside, there will be those who seek to take advantage. As more of the Baby Boomers retire, experts believe that the rise in sexual assault cases could reach epidemic proportions.
If you believe for any reason your loved one has been sexually assaulted at a nursing home, contact the authorities right away and seek the counsel of a reputable lawyer. The award-winning Chicago nursing abuse attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are ready and able to review your case for free. We will let you know everything you need to about your legal rights so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed with your case.