Phoenix Case Shines Spotlight on Sexual Assault in Long-Term Care Facilities

Phoenix Case Shines Spotlight on Sexual Assault in Long-Term Care Facilities | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

The nation was horrified earlier this year when a story broke about a woman who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade giving birth to a baby boy. The incident sparked immediate investigations not only into the sexual assault of the woman, but also into how her caretakers at a Phoenix healthcare facility did not know she was pregnant.

Police immediately responded by collecting DNA samples from male workers at the facility, leading them to identify a male nurse who was then charged with sexual assault. Government agencies also launched multiple investigations resulting in heightened safety measures, including increased staff presence during patient interactions and care, and improved security measures with visitors. 

Millions of Nursing Home Residents Abused, Neglected Each Year

While this case was particularly horrendous, patient neglect leading to sexual assault in nursing homes is all-too-common. Research shows that individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities are at a significantly higher risk for sexual assault compared to nondisabled persons. An estimated 80% of women with disabilities have been sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, only 10-15% of those assaults are reported to police.

Our clients and many others have been victims of sexual abuse in nursing homes. Too often, neglect and abuse occur when the facility’s management fails to protect residents from unwarranted sexual contact, fails to report it if it does occur, and fails to properly investigate suspicions or allegations. We believe in fighting for those whose voices have been silenced, giving them a platform for justice

Warning Signs of Abuse

If you think a loved one residing in a nursing home may be a victim of sexual abuse (including touching, rape, photography, videotaping, and verbal harassment), look for the following red flags:

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Delay in seeking treatment for injuries
  • History given by a caretaker that is inconsistent with the patient’s injury
  • Anal, genital, and/or oral injuries
  • Bruising involving inner thighs, genitalia, breasts, or anus
  • “Suck” or bite marks
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Fear of a specific caregiver or visitor
  • Changes in behavior, including fearfulness, depression, and loss of sleep