Sexual abuse in residential care facilities, also known as nursing homes, has been an unknown and well-hidden problem for years. Unfortunately, it is also a delicate subject rarely highlighted by the media. It was not until December 2018, when a 29-year-old woman in a Phoenix residential care facility gave birth to a boy, all attention shifted to nursing homes. The woman in question was in a vegetative and non-communicative state, meaning she could not consent to sexual contact. If your loved one has been sexually abused in a California residential care facility, we urge you to contact Sex Crimes Attorney immediately. Let us help you seek justice by pursuing compensation for all damages suffered.

Sexual abuse in a nursing home constitutes a crime and a breach of trust. The facility owes all residents the duty of care regardless of their age or health concerns. We can provide invaluable assistance even if your loved one cannot testify, describe an incident, or identify the perpetrator. For instance, we can use physical or even DNA evidence to tell the victim’s story and help you seek justice. Better still, we can enlist a neuropsychologist or other experts to help us unveil the actual impact of abuse on a victim. No matter the situation, contact us to discuss your legal options.

Residential Care Sexual Abuse Defined

Residential care facilities are centers designed to offer long-term care for people needing assistance with daily routines. Even though most residents are elderly, some facilities host adults who need help with meal preparation, maintaining personal hygiene, round-the-clock monitoring, continuing care, and more.

The choice to relocate a loved one into an assisted living facility, board and care home, nursing home, residential care home, or continuing care retirement community is personal. Often, it is a challenging but crucial decision, especially for a family member who requires round-the-clock attention because of mental or physical disabilities.

Residential care sexual abuse can take many forms. According to the American Psychological Association, this kind of abuse refers to any form of unwanted sexual contact. The perpetrator will use threats, force, or simply take advantage of a victim who cannot consent. Note that any person with a mental disability cannot consent to sexual contact.

Any action that falls under the following categories constitutes sexual abuse:

  • The use of physical force or coercion to allow intimate contact

  • The use of threats, manipulation, or tricks to engage in a sexual activity

  • Any unconsented sexual activity or contact with a resident unable to give consent

Some of the common types of sexual contact include:

  • Rape or attempted rape

  • Inappropriate touching

  • Penetration using an object or any part of the body, e.g., fingers

  • Kissing

  • Fondling

  • Sodomy

Moreover, any intrusive, unwarranted, and painful procedures by caregivers while providing “treatment” to a patient’s genitals, rectal area, or breasts can constitute sexual abuse. Actions like the insertion or application of ointments, creams, catheters, thermometers, fingers, or objects that are not medically necessary or prescribed to promote a resident’s wellness also amount to sexual abuse.

When sexual abuse happens in the name of “treatment,” the perpetrator will likely appear obsessed with a particular behavior. For instance, they will insist on performing unwanted practices for health or hygiene purposes. This could include genital examinations, inserting catheters not ordered by a physician, or performing genital douches with a washcloth during hygiene routines. The perpetrator will also be reluctant or outrightly refuse to stop the practices even when instructed.

Additionally, sexual abuse can happen without contact between the perpetrator and the victim. Here are a few examples:

  • Masturbating in front of the victim

  • Taking sexually explicit videos or images of the victim

  • Exposing your naked body or private parts

  • Any other non-contact act performed to spark sexual gratification

If you or your loved one has been sexually abused in a residential care home, you have all the right to pursue justice by filing a civil lawsuit pursuing compensation for damages. While a monetary settlement cannot nurse the physical and mental wounds inflicted by an incident, it can help cover the expenses of seeking physiological and psychological care. A skilled sex crimes attorney can ensure that you receive the maximum award for the incurred financial damages.

Types of Sexual Assaults

Contrary to popular belief, in residential care sexual abuse, the perpetrator is not strictly a staff member. Residents mingle with other classes of people who can be responsible for unwanted sexual contact within the facility.

Here are the most common types of sexual abuse within nursing homes:

Resident-On-Resident Sexual Abuse

The setting within most residential care facilities encourages socialization between residents. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it also increases the duty of care of the caregivers. Without proper supervision, it is possible for one resident to abuse another and an event to go undetected. This is more so if the victim is mentally disabled and unable to report an incident or physically challenged and unable to fight off the predator.

In the above scenario, the residential care facility is liable for its negligence. The center is tasked with monitoring the residents and ensuring oversight, especially when the residents are within social settings. Victims have a right to file a civil case and pursue the compensation they deserve.

Sexual Abuse by a Stranger

Every nursing home must have reliable security protocols that ensure close supervision of anyone who checks in through the front desk. Without strict security measures and personnel, a stranger can walk right past the reception, sexually assault a resident and step out again. Unfortunately, an incident can go undetected, especially if the victim is in a vegetative state. Similarly, the facility is liable for its failure to protect residents from unscrupulous persons who can access the home.

Unwanted Sexual Contact by a Family Member

A family member like the significant other of a resident can sexually abuse their victim within a facility. Even if the perpetrator and plaintiff were married, sexual abuse has occurred if a resident is mentally incapacitated or the contact is outrightly not consensual.

So, is the facility liable for negligence if an incident happens between married couples?

Every case is different, making it imperative to have your matter evaluated keenly by a skilled sex crimes attorney. The legal relationship between couples often makes even the best nursing staff hesitate to report an incident. However, the facility is liable for negligence if they allow abuse to continue where the victim lacks the mental capacity to consent or reports that the sexual contact is unwelcome.

Reasons Why a Resident in a Residential Care Facility Is Unlikely To Report Sexual Abuse

Often, it is up to the loved ones of a victim to identify a problem, investigate it, and seek justice on behalf of an abused resident. Even though most victims of sexual assault have a 50/50 chance of reporting an incident, the rate of speaking about sexual abuse is even lower when the victim is a resident of a nursing home.

First, you can expect the victim to feel ashamed of what happened to them and recoil because of the overwhelming emotions. Secondly, if the victim has a mental condition, they could fail to comprehend what happened to them, leave alone having the ability to report it. Even victims who understand that they were victims of a crime could remain silent because of the shame as they try to heal.

Each situation is unique, and abuse often goes undetected, especially for residents who do not have families or strong support systems. A depressing number of incidents go unreported because the victim has no one they trust enough to disclose what happened. Most victims will speak out if they have a friend, relative, or social worker they trust. You owe your loved one the favor of being that person they can trust enough to disclose an ordeal if it happened to them.

If you suspect that your loved one has suffered molestation or assault from the facility, there are physical and behavioral warning signs you must not ignore. Even if the victim cannot or will not speak out, some indicators can help tell their story.

The most common signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Genital or anal aches, irritation, or bleeding

  • Bloody or torn undergarments

  • Bruises on the inner thighs or around the genitals

  • An STD (sexually transmitted disease) diagnosis

  • Pelvis trauma causing pain when sitting or when having a bowel movement

  • Panic attacks and signs of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)

  • Extreme agitation

  • Sudden trouble walking or sitting

  • Suicide attempts

  • Emotional and social withdrawal from others

  • Sudden interest in engaging in aggressive, unusual, or inappropriate sexual activities

  • Sudden freedom in engaging in unusual or inappropriate sexual contact with a caregiver, resident, or relative

If a loved one shows any of the above signs, it is not guaranteed that they have been sexually assaulted. However, if you notice more than two warning indicators, this is enough reason to engage an attorney to help you with investigations. You owe your loved one the favor of learning the truth and seeking justice on their behalf if they have been violated.

Contributing Risk Factors of Sexual Abuse in Residential Care Facilities

Statistics showing the rate of sexual abuse in residential care homes are heartbreaking. Residents of these types of centers are highly vulnerable to sexual predators because of the following reasons:

  • They battle with mental or physical challenges making them easy targets

  • Residents co-house or mingle with other residents with sexual abuse backgrounds

  • Depending on the health state of a resident, they are not likely to report

  • Over time, most residents learn compliance and lack the mental capacity to resist

  • Even if a resident (especially one with mental challenges) report, they are less likely to be believed

  • Most residents in care homes are isolated by friends and family

  • Health concerns and disabilities can make it impossible for a victim to resist

Generally, the mental and physical states of victims make them easy targets. Other contributing risk factors to sexual abuse include:

  • Gender (women are at higher risk of being sexually abused than men)

  • Functional disability or impairment

  • Physical frailness and poor overall health

  • Alzheimer's and Dementia

  • Past trauma stemming from mistreatment, abuse, or violence

  • Full or partial dependence on others to help with daily chores

  • Overcrowded living conditions and inadequate residents to staff ratio

  • Low income and a feeling of being powerless

The above risk factors are not exhaustive, and anyone within any residential care facility can become a victim of sexual abuse. One of the surest ways to ensure the safety of your loved ones is to assure them of your love and support at all times. This increases the likelihood of them speaking out if something happens.

What to Do If Your Loved Your Loved One Is Sexually Abused In A Residential Care Home

Healing from sexual abuse is challenging. Everyone copes with an event differently, and there is no wrong or right way to undergo the healing process. It remains imperative for victims to understand that it is not their fault that they were sexually abused. They have the right to move past an ordeal, heal and thrive. Pursuing justice and seeking compensation is one of the surest ways of allowing victims to triumph over sexual abuse and move on.

Some of the long term effects of an incident include:

  • Shame

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Denial

  • Eating disorders

  • Sexual problems

  • Guilt

  • Relationship and behavioral problems

  • Drug and alcohol problems

Note that a victim can experience any of the above effects during the healing process. Some symptoms strike at once while others follow each other in a pattern. Sexual abuse is allied with severe trauma, making it imperative to file a civil lawsuit and seek compensation for pain and suffering, among other damages.

Here are steps to take immediately you notice possible signs that your loved one has suffered sexual abuse in a nursing facility:

  • Call 911 or reach out to the local police department

  • Call APS (Adult Protective Services)

  • Report the abuse to the nursing home administrators and have everything on record

  • Contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program within your area

  • Reach out to the State Licensing and Certification Agency responsible for nursing home inspections and complaints

  • Contact a sex crimes attorney

As a residential care home resident, you are entitled to peace, respect, and safety. You are entitled to justice when a sex crime happens within the facility. You can seek financial compensation by filing a civil lawsuit, even as you seek to have an abuser convicted. A competent sex crimes lawyer can hold your hand, ensuring you do not walk the path alone. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we are committed to helping you heal by ensuring you have a fair chance of receiving compensation to aid in your ongoing recovery.

Therefore, you should contact us immediately you confirm or suspect that your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home. We will lend a hand with investigations and inform you of your legal options. Most importantly, we will help you gather evidence to support your case and ensure the victim obtains full compensation for damages suffered.

Unlike in the criminal justice system, where you must prove that sexual abuse happened “beyond a reasonable doubt,” we only need to establish that the crime occurred by a “preponderance of the evidence.” The evidentiary standard in civil court is much lower, meaning there is a greater chance of justice being served. This is irrespective of whether your chances of winning a criminal lawsuit are futile because of a victim’s mental state.

Statute of limitations

The statute of limitations for sexual abuse in a residential care facility sets the timeline within which you must file a claim. Once the statute of limitations expires, it is impossible to file a claim, even if you have a strong case. The law could allow some exceptions because of the unique circumstances revolving around the victim’s mental state. One of the critical factors that can affect the statute of limitations, in this case, is the time when a crime is discovered.

The reporting window in California is two years. Contacting your attorney immediately if you suspect a crime gives you better chances of beating the state deadlines and seeking justice for a loved one. You can contact the Sex Crimes Attorney now for a free case evaluation.

Do I Sue The Perpetrator Of Sexual Abuse Or The Residential Care Facility?

You should file your civil lawsuit against the residential care facility, assisted living facility, or nursing home. They are liable for damages because they owe their residents the duty of care to keep them safe. If it were not for their negligence through inadequate supervision or improper vetting of staff, you would not suffer damages caused by sexual abuse within the facility.

In short, the facility is liable for violating its duty of care, which resulted in your harm. The logic for filing your lawsuit against the facility is also hinged on the issue of insurance coverage. Even if the perpetrator of a crime is a caregiver, the facility and not the individual has enough coverage to provide a settlement. If you file against the perpetrator, you risk not receiving full compensation, especially if they do not have sufficient assets to satisfy the payment following a sexual abuse claim.

You must not underestimate the importance of immediately reporting an incident to the proper authorities. Moreover, the sooner you enlist a nursing home sexual abuse attorney, the better. The expert will advocate for your rights and best interests and ensure that you take the necessary steps to protect the evidence and build a strong case.

Amount of Compensation to Expect

The amount of compensation to expect upon filing a successful civil case against a residential care facility will depend on several factors. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • A victim’s age

  • A facility’s level of fault

  • A facility’s type of insurance coverage for an incident

  • Damages suffered by a victim because of an incident

Moreover, the method of seeking a settlement can significantly impact a claim’s value. There are two main ways victims of sexual abuse can receive compensation from a nursing home. They include:

  • A settlement during compensation— your nursing home sexual abuse attorney will meet a facility’s insurance company for negotiations before moving to court. The expert will handle the necessary paperwork to present a strong case and put a price tag on your damages. If negotiations are fruitful and the insurance company agrees to “settle,” you will receive a lump sum faster and avoid the trouble of going to trial.

  • A trial verdict—a trial verdict is your best hope when negotiations fail. The amount of settlement to expect will depend on the judgment delivered by the jury. If you win the case, you can receive higher or lower compensation than the insurance company offered. Unfortunately, you will not receive a dime if you lose during the trial. It is also essential to know that while there are no caps on economic damages, California regulates how much the jury can award victims for non-economic and punitive damages.

Each nursing home sexual abuse case is different. Your attorney can provide more personalized insight into the compensation amount to expect. A recent expert report shows that the average settlement for nursing home sexual abuse, either in or out of court, is roughly $406,000.

Find a Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me

The horrors of sexual abuse will sometimes leave more emotional than physical scars. An incident can harm a victim in multiple ways, leading to immense pain, suffering, emotional devastation, and even physical health conditions. Even though pursuing compensation will not erase an incident, a settlement will ensure you have the financial means to seek the best physiological and psychological treatment for your loved one. For a free case evaluation regarding residential care sexual abuse in California, contact the Sex Crimes Attorney at 888-666-8480. All discussions about your case will remain confidential and protected under attorney-client privilege.