Minnesota Fights Against Sexual Assaults of Nursing Home Residents
Sexual assaults in senior facilities throughout the Twin Cities happen more than what many may believe. In fact, it is something that has been recorded throughout all of Minnesota.
One such case occurred in Hermantown where a woman in her late 80s was raped in her bed at a senior living home. She was then placed in a mental health unit for several days without receiving treatment for her injuries.
A nursing assistant admitted to the rape. He said he gave the victim narcotics that he knew would incapacitate her, according to the court documents. A judge in St. Louis County sentenced the man in February to nearly 4 ½ years in prison and he was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
No immediate treatment or counseling was administered to the elderly victim after the rape was reported to the facility’s staff and the police. She did not want to be kept in the mental health unit. It is believed by attorneys that medical professionals and the senior facility’s staff doubted the victim’s story because she suffers from memory loss and early stage dementia.
The senior facility operator operates nearly 50 senior living facilities throughout the Midwest. Sexual assault survivor advocates say the January 2013 incident highlights challenges that are faced by vulnerable adults in reporting incidents of nursing home abuse and rape. Often, the stories are not believed because the events are too painful to understand, and because the victim may be suffering from forms of mental illness or dementia.
The Minnesota Department of Health has received a total of six allegations of sexual abuse at nursing homes licensed by the state since 2011. There are many incidents that are unreported because the victims tend to not be believed.
People with dementia tend to be prime targets because their credibility may be challenged.
The elderly victim in this case told police that she was watching a movie when the male staff member came into her room and administered medication. The woman invited the man to watch the movie as well.
It was a week later when a state Department of Health nurse conducted an investigation that concluded based on evidence that the victim had been sexually violated. A sexual assault exam t was conducted five days after the assault and it showed that the victim had sustained a vaginal laceration.
While the woman was in the mental institution for three days, the hospital had not been informed that the staff member had confessed to police that he had assaulted the victim.
Several days later, the woman was sent back to the senior living home and the same room she had been raped in. She was distraught to the point that she barricaded the door with her electric scooter so staff members could not enter her room, according to court documents. The victim’s daughter then acquired an apartment in the Twin Cities area so she could be close to her mother.
The staff member pleaded guilty in November 2013 to third-degree criminal sexual conduct and now the woman is seeking punitive damages. The Health Department did conclude that maltreatment occurred and that the care center was not responsible for the employee’s action. What the facility was cited for was not immediately reporting the sexual abuse allegations.
Report Abuse and Sexual Assaults of Seniors
For more information from the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Health Facility Complaints concerning nursing homes, assisted living and other elder care providers view resolved complaints at the MDH website.
If you have concerns about sexual assault or any other form of elder abuse or neglect contact Minnesota Elder Abuse Attorney Kenneth LaBore toll free at 612-743-9048 or toll free at 1-888-452-6589 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.