Sexual Assault and Molestation in Nursing Homes: Know Your Rights

No one wants to think about sexual abuse in nursing homes. We all want to think when we place a vulnerable loved one into a nursing home for care, that we are doing the best thing for them. In many cases, a nursing home is the safest and best living situation for those who are not able to care for themselves. Unfortunately, there are times when nursing home staff take advantage of residents. Physical and even sexual abuse can and do occur in nursing homes. 

Common Forms of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

There are several forms of sexual abuse. Some of the more common sexual crimes perpetrated on nursing home residents include: 

  • Inappropriate sexual touching, either perpetrated on or demanded of the victim.
  • Showing nursing home residents pornography without their consent and approval.
  • Forcing the elder to watch others engage in sexual acts.
  • Forcing the nursing home resident to undress in front of others when there is not an overriding safety issue that requires it, or forcing them to undress in front of members of the opposite gender.
  • Failure to adequately monitor other nursing home residents or visitors who perpetrate any sexual crime on nursing home residents.

How to tell if Your Loved One is a Victim of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, there is no concrete way to know if your loved one has become the victim of nursing home sexual abuse. Your best line of defense is communication. It is important to be aware that many abused nursing home residents are afraid to tell others about the abuse that is going on. Others may feel ashamed, or may not want to be a bother. 

Here are some warning signs of sexual abuse in nursing home residents to look for:

  • Sudden, unexplained changes in your loved one’s behavior or personality.
  • Injuries such as bruises, scars, or welts. Take special note if the injuries are symmetrical (occur in roughly the same place on opposite sides of the body) or occur around the genitals.
  • Infections that are typically transmitted sexually (venereal diseases or sexually transmitted diseases).
  • Bleeding from the vagina or anus.
  • Bloody or stained underwear.
  • Torn clothing.
  • Sudden, unexplained incontinence (if not previously incontinent), or reoccurring urinary infections in women who are not incontinent not catheterized.

Of course, none of these signs automatically points to nursing home sexual abuse. Each of these could be caused by other factors. However, if you are seeing any of these symptoms -- especially if you are seeing more than one of them -- it is time to start asking some pointed questions. At the very least, these may point to neglect. Additionally, they may point to elder sexual abuse.

Take Action Against Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

If you suspect your loved one may be suffering sexual abuse in a nursing home, take immediate steps to ensure his or her safety. Besides removing them from the potentially dangerous situation, call a lawyer who deals with elder sexual abuse and is familiar with the laws of the state involved.

In many cases, nursing homes that fail to protect their residents from elder sexual abuse may be liable both criminally and civilly. Generally, nursing homes are liable for damages relating to nursing home molestation or sexual abuse if: 

  • They failed to conduct adequate background checks for all employees
  • They failed to screen out employees with a history of sexual crimes
  • They fail to adequately supervise employees
  • They fail to adequately train employees to prevent elder sexual abuse or molestation
  • They allow visitors to have sex with a resident without the resident’s expressed consent
  • They failed to adequately monitor visitors who perpetrated elder sexual abuse

If you suspect sexual assault or molestation at a nursing home, call the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm. In addition to the criminal charges which may be brought against the perpetrators, you and your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages incurred. The lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm specialize in elder care law and will help ensure that sexual assault or molestation does not continue and that your loved one receives adequate care. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.