KBA attorneys are investigating sexual assaults occurring in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other residential settings. For example, founding partner Pete Anderson is litigating a case against Chevy Chase House right now. This is part of KBA’s broader focus on sexual assault. Attorney Derek Braslow is working on these cases too, in addition to clergy abuse and abuse occurring under other organizations’ watch.
Families trust nursing homes to care for their loved ones. That does not always happen, unfortunately. Worse yet, the appropriate parties do not always report abuse.
Sexual assault in nursing homes and other facilities is a wide-spread issue
CNN reported years ago about this issue. “The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.” With recent reports in Washington, New Hampshire, and Florida it seems nothing has changed. Worse yet, the people charged with protecting residents do not seem to appreciate the significance of the harm they allowed to happen. Indeed, in Pete’s case, the home at issue is holding on to legal technicalities and trying to low-ball our client.
KBA litigates nursing home sexual abuse cases
As previously reported by the News4 I-Team, Pete’s case involves an incident that happened on April 6, 2018. A housekeeper entered a resident’s apartment and found the woman “in bed and a construction worker standing at the head of her bed ‘partially unclothed from the waist down.'” The facility, the Chevy Chase House, was fined for failing to report the sexual assault timely. The family was blindsided by this event.
Imagine hearing this happened to your family member, well after the fact. Knowing they suffered for some time while you were unaware. Worse yet, imagine having to file a lawsuit to get compensation to pay for treatment for this survivor and for recognition of the necessary accountability. Let’s ice the cake with insulting settlement offers. So after failing to protect residents and live up to their promises to provide a safe environment, places like the Chevy Chase House fail to deal with the problem after it happens and then they refuse to take accountability by compensating the victims in a meaningful way.
The sad fact is, our client is not alone. Many families have suffered similarly. As a result, families must be vigilant and be on the lookout.
What to look for to identify potential sexual assault in a nursing home or rehab facility
The typical signs and indicators of sexual abuse against the elderly can be either behavioral or physical. They include the following:
- Frequent, recurrent urinary tract infections
- Problems walking or sitting
- Pelvic injuries
- Torn clothes
- Bloody or stained undergarments
- Genital or thigh bruising
- Bleeding of the anus or genitals
- Genital irritation or pain
- Social withdrawal
- Sudden onset of or sudden increase in anxiety or panic attacks
- Sudden or increase agitation
- Inappropriate, unusual, or aggressive sexual conduct
- Suicidal ideation (thoughts or references to suicide)
Nursing homes and other facilities must take steps to prevent sexual assaults
All residents have legal rights. The facilities are duty-bound to provide safe environments. In fact, federal law protects nursing home residents. The Code of Federal Regulations states that residents have “the right to be free from abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident property, and exploitation.” 42 C.F.R § 483.12. To do so, facilities must:
• Have written policies and procedures to prohibit, prevent, and investigate abuse, 42 C.F.R. §483.12(b)(2);
• Train staff adequately regarding what constitutes abuse and the procedures for reporting incidents or
allegations, 42 C.F.R. §483.12(b)(3); and
• Not hire anyone who has been found guilty of abuse by a court, has had a finding entered into
the state nurse aide registry for abuse, or has had a disciplinary action against them for abuse, 42 C.F.R. §483.12(a)(3).
The full regulation is here.
You can find state specific laws using RAINN’s database.
What to do if you suspect sexual abuse in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility
In such cases, law enforcement and government agencies should be notified. You can find resources in your state in RAINN’s database. This non-profit organization has a wealth of resources for survivors and families.
KBA is also here to help.