It can be hard to imagine atrocities like sexual abuse happening in nursing homes, but unfortunately, it does happen. Due to their vulnerable nature and circumstances, the elderly often fall prey to abuse from nursing home staff, the very people who are responsible for protecting them. One of the most unsettling types of nursing home abuse that occurs across the country is sexual abuse. While it’s important that your loved one has someone to keep an eye on their health around the clock, it’s also important that you keep an eye out for signs of possible sexual abuse in nursing homes.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Is A Widespread Problem
Sexual abuse in nursing homes happens more often than many would believe. The most disturbing part of the entire situation is how nursing home administrators and employees take almost no action to prevent or stop these events. In some cases, pure negligence of abuse is the reason why nursing homes are not taking action, but in many other cases, victims don’t feel they can safely report these attacks or just can’t accurately recall the event, due to illness or fear.
Warning Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
If your loved one is not able to communicate to you what is happening in their particular situation, you can always look out for potential warning signs that can indicate the type of sexual assault and frequency with which it is occurring. Some signs of nursing home sexual abuse could be:
- Unexplained STDs or infection.
- Unexplained pelvic or hip injury.
- Bruising around the thigh, genital area or breasts.
- Unexplained vaginal or anal pain, irritation or bleeding.
- Blood, tears or stains on gowns or undergarments.
- Increased difficulty in walking or sitting upright.
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress such as hyper-alertness, emotional numbness, difficulty sleeping or irritability.
- Panic attacks or anxiety.
- Suicide attempts.
- Withdrawing from family or social interactions.
- Acting out inappropriate sexual behaviors or unusual sexual activities.
Elder sexual abuse can come from anyone who comes into contact with the resident. This includes staff, friends, strangers, visitors, other residents and family members. One of the more common forms of nursing home sexual abuse may come from other residents who have dementia, which sometimes leads to resident-to-resident sexual aggression. Staff should be aware and proactive in preventing these instances, but it is also vital for you to be alert to different sources of nursing home sexual abuse.
Many risk factors could potentially lead to sexual abuse in nursing homes. Some things to keep an eye out for are:
- Individuals with dementia or memory problems.
- High-level needs and a high degree of dependence.
- Consistent and prolonged social isolation.
- Communication troubles.
- High levels of stress in the nursing facility, including understaffing, inadequate background checks and training.
- Not receiving regular visitors or checks from individuals living outside the nursing home.
Who are the Sexual Abusers?
In the case with the elderly, anyone who spends time alone with the patient could be a suspect, and this includes:
- Live-In Nurses
- Nursing Home Assistants
- Fellow Residents
One of the main issues with this crime is that the abusers are often people in a position of authority and take advantage of a vulnerable senior person. It is an inexcusable act when caregivers betray the trust that is granted to them that corrupts the entire institution of nursing home professionals everywhere. If someone alleges that this type of abuse has taken place, their claims should be taken seriously.
How Many Have Suffered Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?
Because of the secretive nature of these crimes, it can be hard for family members and the public to be aware that there is an issue, especially with a nursing home that doesn’t respond to or report these cases. Sometimes the staff isn’t even aware of these issues. In one case, a nursing home in Washington, D.C., was fined for failing to report nursing home sexual abuse allegations. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), elder abuse is largely underreported despite mandatory reporting laws.
Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases
July 2019 – Female Resident Repeatedly Raped by Nursing Home Staff
The family of 50-year-old nursing home resident caught one of the male staff members sexually assaulting the woman twice a day, on two different days. Nshimiyiana O Hamzat, 29-years-old was booked into the Seattle King County Jail on July 3 for the investigation of nursing home rape.
July 2019 – Woman Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Nursing Home Resident
Glenda Basanes posed as a registered nurse while working at Loving Care Home. Basanes was eventually arrested for sexually assaulting a 92-year-old patient.
June 2019 – Former Nursing Home Employee Sentenced to Jail
Gary Cripps pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault against a nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s. Cripps took advantage of a woman who was incapable of defending herself.
January 2018 – Woman Raped While In Coma Gives Birth
A woman in a vegetative state, gave birth while staying at Hacienda HealthCare. The nursing home staff claim they were unaware that she was pregnant until she suddenly went into labor. This led to a sexual abuse investigation into the facility where the woman stayed for 14 years.
December 2014 – Elderly Woman Raped By Male Caregiver
Sonja Fischer, 83, couldn’t fight back against her abuser. A nursing assistant saw a male caregiver go into Fischer’s room on December 18th, 2014, at 4:30 in the morning. The witness to the scene observed an individual with bare legs, thrusting, and saw Fischer’s adult diaper had been undone. That individual was then identified as George Kpingbah. In the end, Kpingbah was handed eight years in the penitentiary for third-degree criminal sexual misconduct.
Sexual Abusers Prey on the Elderly
Unfortunately, cases of nursing home sexual abuse happens because predators chose to prey on the vulnerable. In the case of George Kpingbah, though allegations about his behavior had been made in the past, nothing could be proven until they caught him in the act. After Kpingbah was caught though, the nursing home acted immediately. Allegations were raised multiple times, and nothing was done. This shows a lack of sympathy part of the nursing home because other residents of theirs also reported being abused by Kpingbah.
The Steady Stream of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Cases
Sadly, crimes of this nature are happening throughout the nation. One example in South Carolina, a woman who was under 100 pounds and impaired cognitively was unable to defend herself from an abuser, a nursing assistant who sexually assaulted her behind closed doors.
In another case out of Texas, a resident was raped by a caretaker in their nursing home. The abuse victim saved what evidence she could, leaving her bra unwashed for over three weeks before investigators came and examined it.
In Iowa, a victim was assaulted while she took a shower. In this example, the nursing home never bothered to bring this up with the authorities because the person responsible had left the country. Reporters discovered over a thousand cases of how nursing homes weren’t reporting these sexual abuse crimes.
What To Do If Your Loved One Is Being Sexually Abused
Protect your loved one by first ensuring they are safe, and make sure they receive adequate care to recover from their ordeal. Report the abuse to nursing home administrators, call 9-1-1 and file a complaint immediately to make sure they are out of danger. Write down the specific details of the abuse if you can come across them and document any evidence that you may have found, as it can aid in the investigation. Reporting the abuse to Adult Protective Services is always advised as well.
If you suspect your loved one has been sexually abused, it may be a good idea to ask if:
- They received an unwanted contact in an intimate nature, especially to private areas.
- There is unnecessary or excessive contact used during regular bathing or cleaning.
- They are forced to be nude or denied privacy while changing or using the restroom.
- They are forced to observe sexual acts, pornographic images, or listen to sexually graphic conversations.
- They are spoken to with a sexual undertone or sexually graphic language.
- Someone is taking videos or photographs of them in a sexually explicit nature, including videos of bathing or routine care and distribution of these images or videos.
- There is any form of sexual assault or molestation.
Seeking services from a reputable nursing home sexual abuse lawyer is also advised, as these cases require extensive knowledge and personal care. Contact KBA Attorneys to learn about filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit and to ensure that your loved one sees justice.
Filing a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
One of the significant problems with sexual abuse crimes is that abusers often have a great deal of power over their victims. Victims often fear that if they do report these crimes, those nursing home staff members could cause them harm and the matter won’t be investigated.
The most appalling outrage is that many of the people who have committed nursing home sexual abuse have never faced justice for their crimes. The callous disregard for human decency has made it all the more apparent that new laws and regulations need to be enacted so that people are protected from abuse within their nursing home.
Our nursing home sexual abuse lawyers are committed to helping victims find justice in the court of law and punish the nursing homes that have failed to provide the care that was promised. We will use the full extent of the law to punish the abusers and the facilities that have been unable to prevent nursing home sexual abuse.
If someone you love has suffered at the hands of someone else in a nursing home, you have a right to compensation. Finding an experienced personal injury lawyer from KBA Attorneys can bring those responsible to justice. Call KBA Attorneys today for a free case evaluation and learn how to file an elder sexual abuse lawsuit.
- Sandee LaMotte. “How to protect a loved one from abuse or sexual assault in a nursing home”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/18/health/sexual-abuse-protection-nursing-home-long-term-care/index.html. Accessed July 10, 2019.
- RAINN. “Elder Abuse”, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, https://www.rainn.org/articles/elder-abuse. Accessed July 10, 2019.
- Mark Davis. “America’s hidden horror: Sexual abuse in nursing homes and care facilities”, The Sacramento Bee, https://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article146281039.html. Accessed July 10, 2019.
- Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken. “Sick, Dying and Raped in America’s Nursing Homes”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/health/nursing-home-sex-abuse-investigation/. Accessed July 10, 2019.
- NPR. “Health Workers Still Aren’t Alerting Police About Likely Elder Abuse, Reports Find”, NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/12/731820729/reports-find-health-workers-still-arent-alerting-police-regarding-likely-elder-a. Accessed July 10, 2019.
- David Lazarus. “Is your loved one in a nursing home? Here’s why you should be alarmed”, Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-dangerous-nursing-homes-20190611-story.html. Accessed July 10, 2019.