The U.S. House Government Reform Committee – Special Investigations Division found nearly 9,000 incidences of nursing home abuse over a two-year period. Many of these incidents involve sexual abuse on men and women 60 and older. Elderly women are nearly 6 times as likely to be a victim of elder sex abuse as men.
As Illinois nursing home negligence attorneys, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to holding facilities fully accountable when a patient is sexually assaulted at their facility. If your loved one was sexually violated by another patient, staff member or visitor, our office is committed to holding them fully accountable under Illinois law. Contact our office now for a complimentary and confidential discussion of your sexual abuse or assault in a nursing home setting today.
Sexual Assault of Elderly: Grossly Misunderstood and Poorly Documented Condition
Unfortunately, because it is understudied, sexual abuse among the elderly is rarely understood, or reported. Many elderly sexual abuse victims suffer extensive medical conditions including confusion, memory loss and problems with communicating. Maltreatment, neglect and abuse often go unreported, or challenging to seek justice for the harm it inflicts.
Legally, sexual abuse among the elderly is defined as any inappropriate, undesired sexual content against individuals 60 years and older. Often times, this type of sexual abuse causes harm when the elderly individual is coerced, manipulated or tricked into unwanted sexual contact (look here for further discussion on the topic). This can include any type of sexual contact with elderly individuals that do not have the ability or capacity to communicate disapproval or non-consent.
Sexual Abuse Offenders of the Elderly Living in Skilled Nursing Facilities
Research on sexual abuse of the elderly is extremely limited. In addition, research becomes even more complicated because many of the victims of sexual abuse are incapable of communicating the maltreatment. Many of the cases involving sexual abuse of an elder occur while in the care of others. Sexual offenders often include live-in nurses, home assistants, family members, friends, or other health providers entrusted to take care of the elderly patient while alone.
In many incidents, a staff member is responsible for the sexual assault in nursing home. Other times, another resident causes the sexual abuse or assault, especially when victims are too weak or unable to resist or communicate disapproval or non-consent.
Where it Happens
In the year 2000, the Journal of Abuse published a study indicating that the largest percentage of sexual abuse against the elderly (70.7 percent of cases) happened in skilled nursing facilities. In addition, just over 12 percent of the victims of sexual abuse were assaulted in their own home, and nearly 15 percent of victims were assaulted in the home of the sexual offender. In many nursing homes, staff members find continuous opportunities for sexual abuse when bathing, dressing, or assisting the elderly to the bathroom.
There are specific signs / indicators when sexual abuse of an elderly individual occurs. Often, behavior or physical changes in the individual indicating sexual abuse could include:
- Irritation, bleeding or pain of the genital or anal area
- Newly emerging STDs (sexual transmitted diseases)
- Pelvic injury
- New difficulties when walking or sitting
- Bruises around the genital area or the inner thigh
- Stained, torn or bloody undergarments
- Unexpected withdrawal from communicating and/or involvement in social interaction
- Extreme agitation
- Panic attack
- Emerging signs of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms
- Unusual, aggressive or inappropriate sexual behavior
- Unusual or inappropriate behavior including the appearance of a sex-role relationship between the sexual abuse suspect and the victim
- Attempted suicide
Legal Responsibility Of Illinois Skilled Nursing Facilities To Ensure Their Patients Are Safe
Sexual assault in nursing home can be the result of the facility not conducting proper background investigations of every potential employee. When the nursing facility fails to provide proper screening on any employee with a sexual abuse history, they can be held liable for the abuse and negligence.
In addition, the management can be held liable for the sexual abuse because of improper employee supervision. This is often the result of poor training or understaffing. In addition, it is the duty of the nursing facility management to properly train and supervise all employees on the best methods of spotting sexual abuse. When this fails, the entire staff, management and facility itself can be held responsible.
Sample Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawsuits & Settlements
$1,000,000 Settlement for Sexual Abuse; Cook County, Illinois
The events of this dispute arose in Chicago, Illinois. The victim-turned-plaintiff was in her middle seventies during the relevant events. She lived in a local nursing home. Her age and various infirmities required her to enter a long-term care facility. While she was living there, she alleged that one of her caretakers sexually abused and assaulted her. From these events, she suggested various forms of trauma and harm resulted. To treat these injuries, she would need medical and psychological care for many years her doctors alleged. To make up for this, she sued the nursing home. Her complaint stated that it failed to properly hire, train, and supervise its employees to prevent this from happening. Further, it appeared that the nursing home did not even conduct a routine background check on the man. Had they done that, this whole matter could have been avoided. The lawsuit sought compensation for these developments. The defendant nursing home did file a reply denying many of the points in the plaintiff’s cause of action. However, it did not test them in court. They settled for a reported $1 million.
$504,152 Settlement for Illinois Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
This incident had all of the telltale signs of sexual abuse at an Illinois nursing home. The victim was an elderly female resident. She was ninety-three when the abuse occurred. The perpetrator was in his early twenties. The evidence of his repeated abuse was obvious: regular bruising; victim complaints; excessive time together; etc. Eventually, the man even raped the woman. Nursing home staff did not report the incident for over ten hours. After everything was discovered and sorted out, the woman sustained tremendous physical, emotional, and psychological injuries. She sued the nursing home to recover for these. She claimed that it failed completely in its duty to protect her and provide a safe environment. Also, she said that it did not even attempt to monitor or supervise the man that repeatedly abused her. These errors and many others directly led to and caused her problems the lawsuit argued. The defendant nursing home could not substantially explain these failures. Instead, it sought to short-circuit the litigation. It offered to settle and end the matter. The plaintiff agreed and obtained a sum of $504,152.
$975,000 Settlement after Chicago Nursing Home Sexual Assault
This lawsuit was controversial because the alleged assailant was never discovered. Here is what we do know: a one-hundred-year-old nursing home resident claimed she was raped while living at the facility. The nursing home complied entirely with the investigation. However, none of its male nurses or other male staff members tested positively as the abuser. After an extensive and time-consuming process, the true culprit was never identified. Nevertheless, the plaintiff still proceeded with her claim. She thought the nursing home was derelict in its duty to provide a safe living environment. As a result, she maintained that she was injured and damages physically, mentally, and financially. She sought compensation from the defendant nursing facility for these losses. Despite being confident in its innocence, the nursing home agreed to settle with the elderly resident for a reported $975,000. This sum is interesting because of the lack of evidence.
$680,000 Verdict for Elderly Nursing Resident after Sexual Abuse
This case was unfortunate because it was avoidable. The assailant had a significant criminal background with previous incidents of abuse at other nursing homes. However, the nursing home where the victim (age ninety-three) stayed did not even do a cursory background check. This allowed the man to slip through the cracks and assault and abuse the woman here. She sustained physical injuries, emotional damage, and mental trauma as well as other losses. Through her counsel, she sued the Illinois nursing home and the man who committed the abuse. The nursing home offered to settle for a reported $30,000. The plaintiff thought that this number was insulting especially since the defendant facility admitted to insufficiently hiring and screening its workers. After a trial on the merits, a jury awarded the plaintiff $680,000 for her damages including pain, suffering, and bills.Chicago Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys With Experience Prosecuting These Heinous Acts
In some incidences, sexual abuse of an elderly individual in a nursing home can happen by a stranger, when the facility neglects to take proper security measures to protect entry.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have helped victims of Chicago nursing home sexual abuse win maximum financial recompense for their injuries and suffering involved in such a horrifying event. While compensation does not undo the emotional damage, it can help victims seek justice and recovery for the psychological, mental and rehabilitation expenses incurred. Call the law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a no-obligation consultation on how to stop the abuse, and hold those responsible accountable for their inappropriate actions.