Sexual Abuse Not Uncommon Within Nursing Homes

A rash of nursing home sexual abuse allegations has been sweeping the country. One only has to read the extensive blogs, news articles, and first hand accounts to see that the number of cases is rising. According to expert research, sexual abuse accounts for about 2% of nursing home abuse cases. Unfortunately, only about half of all instances of sexual abuse within a nursing home come to light; in many cases, nursing home officials either brush aside allegations of abuse or try to cover-up evidence of the abuse to avoid legal sanctions.

Sexual abuse within a nursing home can present in many forms. Typically however, the abuse is perpetrated either by one resident against another or by a staff member against a resident. Abuse can happen at any nursing home that is not well monitored, or whose staff has not been well trained or subjected to background checks. In fact, it is not uncommon for the nursing home within which sexual abuse is occurring to be a hot-bed to other types of neglect and abuse. For example, just a few months ago, I blogged about Robert Gunderson, a certified nursing aid at Northwoods Rehabilitation Center of Troy, New York. Gunderson was sentenced to ten years probation and required to register as a level two sex offender after he sexually abused an elderly resident. Northwoods was later the subject of an intense investigation where 14 nurses, nurses aides were charged with endangering the welfare of elderly residents and felony falsification of nursing home records after extensive abuse and neglect of its residents was caught on camera.

There are a number of tell-tale signs of sexual trauma that an abused resident might display. They include: depression, fear of certain residents or staff, difficulty walking or standing, bleeding, bruising or pain in the genital or anal region, increased discussion of sexual activity, discovery of sexually transmitted diseases, or changes in behavior. In New York State, a nursing home can be held both criminally and civilly liable for failing to prevent sexual abuse from occurring within their facility. It can also be held liable for failing to report abuse, trying to cover up evidence of sexual abuse, and failing to adequately investigate allegations of sexual abuse. If you think that a loved one has been the subject of sexual abuse in a nursing home, contact your local law enforcement, and consult with an attorney as soon as possible. While you may not be able to turn back the clock and prevent the abuse that already occurred from happening, you can prevent it from happening again. 

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