Earlier in January, an Arizona case involved a woman, who was in a coma, gave birth to a child. A 911 call reported that the baby was born in a nursing home. Authorities arrived at the scene and shockingly realize that the woman experienced nursing home rape while in a vegetative state.
When investigators arrived, they found that the mother was “unable to move and unable to communicate,” according to reporting for the New York Times. They immediately realized that this was a nursing home rape case, as this woman, who is 29, has been in this condition for more than a decade.
More recently, the San Carlos Apache Tribe stated that the victim was an “enrolled member of the tribe.” This horrifying situation is, unfortunately, a reality, even in a nursing home for elderly patients.
CNN published a multi-part report that revealed that 1,000 nursing homes had been “cited for mishandling suspected cases of sexual abuse.” The report explained that there are various factors that play a role in these cases—nursing home employees react slowly to allegations, and police also dismiss victims.
Since many victims are disabled, they are easy to take advantage of especially since they depend on nursing home staff to aid them. The numbers of possible victims are also impossible to determine.
Women aren’t the only victims, either. In California, a group of male nurses abused five male residents and took video and photos of them. Many of the aids were never charged, they only lost their certifications.
With more than 16,000 complaints of sexual abuse reported since 2000, why isn’t more being done to prevent these circumstances? Many victims don’t report their assaults, either because they are too scared, or simply cannot report it.
In a St. Louis nursing home, a caregiver was charged with rape charges after confessing to the crimes, however, the two elderly residents suffered from dementia and were not able to testify. As a result, he received two years probation.
Nursing home facilities contribute to the problem since a majority don’t report or investigate most of the sexual or physical abuse. Moreover, there are state and federal laws that require that abuse is reported, however, this is not always enforced by nursing homes.
Mark Kosieradzki, an attorney who represents many victims told CNN, “Predators find elderly patients to be easy prey. Those patients often have dementia. They can’t say what happened, or are not believed because many people find it inconceivable that a 28-year-old caregiver would want to rape someone’s grandmother.”
According to the CNN investigation, at least 500 facilities failed to report sexual abuse. Signs of sexual abuse in a nursing home include sexually transmitted diseases or infections, ruined or ripped body undergarments, PTSD, inability walk properly, or unexplained bruises on the body.
Many nursing homes did not screen applicants properly before hiring them as caregivers. The hiring process and management need to be exponentially improved.
Neglect runs rampant through nursing homes, for the elderly and for the disabled. For all states, in all cities, nursing homes must do better for their patients and act responsibly under vulnerable conditions.
Whether it is neglectful abuse, physical, or sexual, nursing home aids and facilities should be held accountable for their actions.
If you are someone or know someone who would like to come forward about sexual abuse in a nursing home, notify the facility with certified mail, identify the abuse, and contact a sexual abuse lawyer right away.