This is a review of a nursing home sexual abuse case wherein an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s was said to have been sexually abused by two employees of a nursing home. The sexual abuse revelations arose after several nursing staff who were attempting to undress the woman for a routine medical examination became alarmed when they noticed what appeared to be lacerations and contusions in the pelvic area.
The staff immediately called the police who launched a criminal investigation into the woman’s injuries. Their inquiries led them to two employees of the nursing home, both of which were eventually convicted of felonies and incarcerated. The family meanwhile had hired counsel and filed a lawsuit claiming the nursing home was negligent in hiring the two men.
Statement of Facts…
Mildred Jones was 72 years old. She was a retired school teacher whose husband passed away 3 years before. Mrs. Jones was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For the last two years she had been living with several of her children.
As her mental acuity slowly diminished her daughters reluctantly decided to place her into a nursing home; one which specialized in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. The Jones family decided on the Symphony Nursing Home. After working out the financial and personal arrangements, Mrs. Jones was admitted.
The Nursing home had twenty four staff members. Those included administrators, staff physicians, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and orderlies. The nursing home recently hired Arthur Shivers and Lamont Taylor to work as orderlies. Their duties included, but were not limited to, collection of laundry, changing of sheets, and assisting the nurses with the turning of patients in their beds.
Although there were rumors floating about the nursing home that some employees may have been sexually abusing various female patients, no one had any real evidence.
Two months after Mrs. Jones was admitted into the nursing home she was scheduled for a routine physical exam. Dr. Andrew Kane was about to begin the exam when suddenly Mrs. Jones violently recoiled. As the nurses began to undress her she began to cry. A female physician by the name of Amelia Sofford was called in. When the female doctor approached Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones seemed to relax.
Dr. Sofford began to examine Mrs. Jones and noticed severe lacerations, contusions and abrasions to her pelvic area. She immediately notified the nursing home administrator, who in turn notified the police.
When the police arrived they interviewed the two physicians and the two registered nurses. Two female police officers accompanied the same two physicians and nurses into the woman’s room. The physicians then showed the female officers the woman’s injuries. Photos of the injuries were taken.
After determining the woman’s injuries were not self-inflicted the police opened a criminal investigation. The investigation was opened as an “Aggravated Sexual Assault of an Elderly Person,” which was a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Shortly thereafter the woman’s family made appointments with several personal injury attorneys who specialized in nursing home sexual abuse. They knew there would be additional expenses required to relocate their mother to another nursing home. They also wanted to have their mother receive counseling by a psychiatrist.
Unable to afford those expenses, the family wanted to know if the nursing home was liable for the injuries inflicted upon their mother and if that liability could translate into a civil suit.
Each attorney explained to the family members a civil suit against the nursing home was certainly possible, and would in all probability be successful. They also cautioned the family members that waiting for the police investigation to conclude would be best.
If the police could learn who sexually assaulted their mother, and those persons were convicted of the nursing home sexual abuse, the family’s civil lawsuit would be much stronger.
The family agreed and retained one of the attorneys.
Two weeks into the criminal investigation the police arrested two suspects. They separated the two suspects and interrogated them individually. Panicked and frightened, each suspect turned against the other. After coming to the conclusion one of the suspects was the leader, the police and the district attorney entered into a plea bargain with the other suspect.
With the help of the second suspect’s testimony, several months later the lead suspect was tried and convicted of the first degree felony of “Aggravated Sexual Abuse of an Elderly person”. He was sentenced to 20 years in state prison and assessed a $10,000 fine.
Shortly thereafter the family’s attorney filed a $2,000,000 lawsuit against the nursing home.
In their nursing home sexual abuse lawsuit against Symphony Nursing Home, the Jones family contended the nursing home’s negligence in not discovering the sexual abuse much sooner than they did was “unconscionable.”
They went on to contend if the nursing home performed “due diligence” in the background checks of Arthur Shivers and Lamont Taylor they would have discovered Arthur Shivers had previously been arrested and convicted for aggravated assault against his then girlfriend. Lamont Taylor’s record, they charged, was replete with petty crimes of “moral turpitude.”
The nursing home denied the allegations and blamed the oversight on the background check of each employee on a staff member who had recently been fired. They said they had no reason to believe Shivers and Lamont were engaged in the sexual abuse of Mrs. Jones. They heard rumors, they said, but without evidence they couldn’t charge Shivers and Lamont with any inappropriate behavior without being sued for defamation.
After both sides rested and closed their cases, the jury took only 45 minutes to come in with their verdict.
The jury found the Symphony Nursing Home negligent and awarded Mrs. Jones and her family the amount of $2,000,000.
Nursing Home Abuse of the Elderly is an unconscionable crime. The elderly, especially those whose mental capacity has been diminished by age or disease are easy targets for abuse. In the last 10 years the number of elderly abuse lawsuits has tripled.
Nursing home abuse is a criminal act. In most states abuse of the elderly is a felony. Sexual abuse of the elderly is a most serious crime.
In most states sexual abuse of the elderly is in the same category as murder. In cases of elderly abuse it is often advisable to permit the criminal case to proceed to its conclusion before filing a civil suit.
*This case example is for educational purposes only. It is based on actual events although names have been changed to protect those involved. Any resemblance to real persons or entities is purely coincidental.
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