Thankfully, sexual abuse in the nursing home or assisted living setting is pretty rare. But when it occurs, it represents the biggest imaginable failure of nursing home administration, and always requires the engagement of a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer.
Sexual assault or rape in the custodial care setting is most often perpetrated by a fellow resident, and sometime by a caregiver. There are also documented instances of an outsider entering the nursing facility and sexual assaulting or raping a resident.
Sexual assault by fellow nursing home resident. Many people are surprise to learn that it is the policy of most nursing homes to allow residents to be sexually expressive and have policies that instruct caregivers to respect the private sexual activity of consenting patients. The operative word, of course, is consenting.
Nursing home caregivers must be aware of a resident’s ability to participate in a consenting sexual relationship. In doing so, the staff must assess, and answer the following questions:
- Is the resident aware of the relationship and the person initiating the sexual contact? Many people of advanced age have a decline in cognitive function, even though there may not be a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. If a resident cannot articulate the level of sexual activity that he/she would be comfortable with, then a deeper analysis is warranted.
- Can the resident avoid exploitation? Simply put, does the resident have the capacity to say no and reject sexual advances.
- Is the patient aware of any potential risks associated with sexual activity?
If the resident is not aware of the relationship of the person initiating sexual contact, or is unable to avoid exploitation, then engagement in sexual activity by that resident may be exploitative and considered sexual assault. If so, a nursing home sexual abuse lawyer may want to conduct on investigation.
Sexual assault by nursing home caregiver. Sex assault by the people engaged to provide care is the stuff of nightmares. It is, of course, a crime and should always be reported to local law enforcement and prosecuted. It is also a civil action and should be prosecuted by a qualified nursing home sex assault attorney.
It hardly needs to be said that nursing home and assisted living residents are living in these homes because of some limitation that requires professional help, whether it physical or psychological, or both. It is a terribly vulnerable population that is often at the total mercy of those who provide the care.
When an employee of the nursing facility commits sexual assault or rape, a deep investigation needs to be conducted into the background of the perpetrator. Why was he (or she) hired? What is the criminal background of the individual? Did the nursing home leadership fail to conduct a background check? Has he/she been reprimanded in the past for untoward conduct? These questions can be answered in the lawsuit against the nursing home which is why engaging nursing home attorney with experience in sexual abuse cases is critical.
Sexual assault by an outsider. Though rare, this is criminal conduct that should be prevented by the nursing home, who has a duty to the residents to know who is visiting the residents, day or night. There have been a few cases of individuals entering nursing or assisted living facilities at night, where there is less security, and assaulting residents. This should never occur absent the negligent conduct of the nursing home.
The lawyers at Southern California Nursing Home Law Group have handled several cases involving sexual assault and would be glad to consult with any family where this may have occurred. No vulnerable nursing home resident should be subjected to this type of conduct in the very facility that has been hired to protect them. Our nursing home sexual abuse attorneys never charge a fee to discuss a case and can let you know whether there is a viable case of elder abuse under California law.
Call anytime toll free at (866) 607-1325 or fill out our online questionnaire.