No one wants to imagine their loved one being sexually abused in a nursing home. Unfortunately, however, it happens. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), in 2016, ombudsman programs around the country investigated 819 allegations of sexual abuse. These investigations explored allegations of:
- Unwanted sexual touching or forced nudity
- Taking or distributing sexually explicit photographs or videos or forcing residents to watch pornography or masturbation
- Rape or sexual assault
Victims of nursing home sexual abuse tend to be women with dementia, according to the NCEA, though all residents may be vulnerable. The perpetrators may be staff, but they may also be fellow residents, family members, or even friends.
Under the laws of both the federal government and the state of Texas, nursing homes are responsible for ensuring that their residents are not sexually abused or exploited. These parties are negligent if they fail to meet that duty.
If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse at a nursing home, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today. An Austin sexual abuse lawyer will not only work to hold those negligent accountable, but we will also strive to ensure that it does not happen again.
Call our offices today to schedule your free consultation at (800) 842-6336.
Nursing Home Rules that You Should Know About
42 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §483.12 says that residents of nursing homes have the right to be free of “abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident property, and exploitation.” As defined in 42 CFR §483.5, “abuse” includes sexual abuse or “non-consensual sexual contact of any type with a resident.”
To that end, nursing homes are prohibited from employing or contracting individuals who:
- Have previously been convicted of abuse
- Have been entered into a state registry with an abuse-related finding against them
- Who have faced disciplinary action from a state licensing body as a result of a finding of abuse
Further, a nursing home must develop written policies and procedures to prevent abuse, investigate allegations of abuse, and ensure that allegations of abuse are reported within two hours of the allegation being made.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states that nursing homes must report an abuse allegation to the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) and law enforcement “immediately.” They must then follow up that oral report with a written report within five business days. Employees who fail to report allegations of abuse may be held criminally liable.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Caregivers sometimes miss the signs of elder sexual abuse, particularly when the victim suffers from dementia or a mental illness that makes them prone to confusion or memory loss. According to the NCEA, signs of sexual abuse may include:
- Bruising seen in and around the genitals, breasts, or inner thighs
- Unexplained STDs or genital infections
- Vaginal or anal irritation, pain, or bleeding
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Undergarments that have been torn or bloodstained
In some cases, however, physical signs are not apparent. Even so, behavioral signs may alert you that something is wrong. The NCEA says watch out for:
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), agitation, or panic attacks
- Unexplained behavioral changes, such as increased nightmares and fear of being left alone
- A reluctance to interact with other people
- Attempting suicide
In addition, the NCEA says residents “may exhibit unusual behavior with their abuser, including tense relationships and frequent arguments. They may also exhibit anxiety or excessive fear around their abuser and engage in more aggressive behaviors.”
As with other allegations of sexual abuse, we should believe victims. Just because they may be older or suffering from mental decline, that does not mean they are making it up. At a minimum, any hint of sexual abuse in a nursing home needs to be thoroughly investigated. After all, your loved one may not be the only victim.
If your loved one shows signs that they have been sexually abused in a nursing home, call the firm of an Austin sexual abuse lawyer today.
For a free legal consultation with a Sexual Abuses Lawyer serving Austin, call (800) 794-0444
How We Can Help Your Family Pursue Justice
About 70% of nursing homes are for-profit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Managers often have an incentive to keep costs low. This can mean hiring fewer staff members at low wages, which can create environments in which elders are not adequately protected. If your loved one has been sexually abused within a nursing home, you may have a strong negligence case against the facility.
In Texas, there is no limit on the amount of economic or noneconomic compensatory damages you may recover against the nursing home. Economic damages refer to actual financial losses. These can include medical bills related to the negligent act. Noneconomic damages can include pain and suffering, mental pain or anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, etc., per Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code §41.001.
Austin Sexual Abuses Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
Call Our Firm Today to Discuss Your Options
When you entrust your loved one to a nursing home, you deserve better than negligent care that allows them to fall victim to predators. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we know that sexual abuse cases are some of the most challenging out there. But we never shy away from tough cases, and we will not stop until we get justice for your loved one. Most importantly, we will not stop until we are sure the abuse has ended.
Our Austin sexual abuse lawyer will work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that you do not pay us anything until we recover a financial award on your behalf. For a free consultation, call our offices today at (800) 842-6336.