We place trust in nursing homes to care for our aging parents, spouse, and loved ones. However, residents report abuse from both staff members and fellow residents. About seven percent of abuse in nursing homes is sexual, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
Seniors are a vulnerable population due to their frailty and need for care. They may also delay or not report the abuse out of fear of their abuser, embarrassment, or inability.
If you suspect someone is sexually abusing your parent or spouse, a Louisiana sexual abuse lawyer will fight on their behalf. Talk to the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 about seeking compensation.
Overview of Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes
Any unwanted intimate contact is sexual abuse. However, abuse is not just physical touch. Sexual abuse in nursing homes takes many forms and includes:
● Rape and non-consensual touch
● Forced nudity
● Taking photographs or video while nude
● Involuntary watching of sexually explicit content, such as pornography
Older adults may be scared or ashamed to report their abusers. Visual signs of elderly sexual abuse:
● Bruising near genitals, thighs, and breasts
● New sexually transmitted diseases and infections
● Pain, bleeding, or irritation near or from genitals
● Underwear soiled with blood or torn
● More difficulty walking or sitting
Your loved one may also exhibit emotional signs of abuse and sudden behavioral changes. Your parent or spouse may be unable to sleep at night, scared to be alone, or completely withdraw. They may avoid individual staff members or areas of the nursing home.
Nursing home patients most at-risk for sexual abuse are women and those with:
● No family or limited family contact
● Memory problems or dementia
● Mental illness
● Mental impairment or inability to communicate
If you have suspicions about sexual abuse in your loved one’s nursing home, act on them. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm and find out about your rights as the family member of an abused senior.
Elderly Sexual Abuse Cases
The best reason to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against an attacker is to hold them accountable and protect the community. However, the abuser may not be the only liable party. If the nursing home did not take necessary precautions to prevent the attacks, it may be responsible, too. A nursing home may be liable if:
● Administrators did not run background checks on new employees.
● No one trained the staff to detect abuse or did not address it.
● Management did not monitor direct resident care.
● No security measures were in place for residents.
The statute of limitations for elder sexual abuse varies by several factors, including severity. Louisiana does not place a time limit for the prosecution of first- or second-degree rape. The state does limit third-degree rape proceedings to six years.
Depending on the severity of the abuse, Louisiana Revised Statutes (RS) §14:43.1 states that sexual battery victims 65 years of age or older have a time limit between four to six years. Conversely, you can have as few as six months for certain sexual misdemeanors.
If your family member has a physical impairment, and the attacker took advantage of their incapacity, you may have decades to file a lawsuit.
Types of Evidence Needed
When filing a sexual abuse lawsuit, it is important to keep your family member’s physical and mental condition in mind. They may recall the event with clarity one day and forget or confuse details the next. Their ability to testify can also decrease with their health. Collecting and recording testimony during their highest functioning periods can be helpful.
Your case may benefit from expert testimony, such as a physician, pathologist, or another medical professional. An expert witness can explain to the court any injuries, health progression, effects of medication, the capacity to consent, and more.
Testimony is just one piece of evidence. Other evidence can include:
● Medical records illustrating trauma and health conditions
● Law enforcement records, such as arrest reports and recorded 911 calls
● Criminal records of the defendant
● Investigative reports into the defendant, like a history of transferring to multiple nursing homes in a short period
The court or defense may request proof of competency. This can serve as evidence that the senior is a reliable witness or proof that they could not consent to sexual acts.
Recoverable Damages and Awards
As a civil case, you can sue for a payment to cover expenses like medical bills, the nursing home’s cost, and more. You can also seek additional compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering.
How a Louisiana Sexual Abuse Lawyer Helps
Victims can be ashamed and embarrassed when they talk about their abuse. They may be particularly unwilling to share the experience with their family members. An outside party such as a legal professional may be able to collect more details about the attack if the resident is more open to speaking.
Your Louisiana sexual abuse lawyer will prepare evidence and arguments to counter the abuser’s defense. Common defenses from sexual perpetrators include:
● “It was consensual” – Whether a staff member or a co-resident, attackers may insist that the intimacy was mutual.
● “It was not me” – The defense may blame confusion for the accusation if your loved one has a history of cognitive problems.
● “I did not do that” – Staff may state the action was part of the job, like bathing, dressing, or applying medical care to the resident. They may also use the senior’s age and mental capability to deny what happened or that they were present.
● “I didn’t know what I was doing” – If the abuser is a fellow resident, the defense may present a case that the abuse was unintentional. They may also state they did not know your loved one was unable to consent.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to talk to our team.