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Chicago nursing home Sexual Abuse LawyerAny form of nursing home abuse or neglect can be devastating to victims and their loved ones, but perhaps the most harmful and insidious is sexual abuse. While you may never expect to be affected by sexual abuse personally, these terrible incidents do happen, and sometimes close to home. Just last month, a southern Illinois nursing home was fined $200,000 for an incident in which a staff member allegedly sexually assaulted a resident.

In addition to staff members, other residents may also be perpetrators of sexual abuse in nursing homes. Regardless of the identity of the offender, sexual abuse can leave physical, emotional, and psychological scars on the victim. If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, it is important to be aware of the possibility of sexual abuse and to understand how to recognize and prevent it.

Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be difficult to detect, as victims are often reluctant to discuss it out of fear or shame. Nursing home residents with dementia may also find it very difficult to communicate their distress, and they may be uncertain as to whether the abuse actually happened. You may not be able to rely on your loved one to tell you of the abuse on their own, so it is important to look for signs that abuse may have occurred.

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Illinois nursing home sexual abuse lawyersNursing homes should be safe havens for individuals who suffer from physical or mental impairments. While many nursing homes are staffed by compassionate and attentive employees, other nursing homes expose residents to neglect and abuse. One of the most disturbing forms of nursing home abuse is sexual abuse. If a nursing home resident suffers from sexual abuse, a civil action against the facility may hold the wrongdoers accountable and get justice for the injured resident.

Sexual Abuse May Be Perpetrated by Staff, Other Residents, or Visitors

Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Physical ailments reduce many residents’ ability to care for themselves and protect themselves against harm. Cognitive impairments from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease reduce residents’ ability to remember, communicate, and understand.

Sadly, these vulnerabilities make nursing home residents an easy target for perpetrators of abuse. Ombudsman programs investigated over 800 reports of sexual abuse in 2016 alone. Sometimes, the perpetrator is a staff member. Other times, the perpetrator of sexual abuse is another resident. Visitors to the facility and third-party contractors who work for the facility may also be perpetrators of sexual violence against residents.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysAround the beginning of 2019, various news outlets reported on the horrific story out of Phoenix, Arizona, where a disabled nursing home patient had surprisingly given birth. The woman was allegedly raped by a licensed practical nurse who worked at the facility. The former nurse pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult, and he is currently awaiting trial.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is not terribly uncommon in nursing homes around the United States. However, the perpetrators are not always employees or staff members. In some cases, residents have been sexually assaulted and abused by other residents of the home. When sexual assault is committed by another resident, criminal charges are possible, and the victim could seek compensation from the home itself for negligent supervision.

Florida Nursing Home Patient Arrested and Charged

According to a report by Florida Today, a female resident of a Palm Bay nursing facility was sexually assaulted by another resident in September. The woman was allegedly sleeping when she woke to find a 65-year-old male resident touching her inappropriately. She reportedly pulled the cord near her bed to let the home’s staff know that she needed help. When staff members entered the room, the man was still in the room and groping the female patient, arrest records indicate.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysA couple of weeks ago, a post on this blog discussed a case out of Arizona in which a female nursing home patient gave birth despite having been incapacitated for more than 25 years. The nature of the story led to national headlines as the investigation continued locally to determine how such a thing could have happened. This week, law enforcement officials in Phoenix announced that they have made an arrest in the case and that the suspect will be facing criminal charges.

A Quick Recap

According to various news outlets, a 29-year-old patient surprised the staff at a Phoenix-area nursing home when she went into labor on December 29, 2018, and gave birth to a baby boy. The labor was surprising because the woman had been incapacitated and living in the nursing home since a near-drowning incident when she was 3 years old. Staff members said that they had no idea that the woman was pregnant until she went into labor.

Early stories reported that the woman was in a vegetative state, but her family has since refuted those reports. An attorney for her family said, “She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head, and neck. [She] responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures.”

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysNews outlets across the country are reporting one of the most disturbing nursing home abuse stories in recent years. A woman who is in a vegetative state after an incident where she nearly drowned has given birth to a child. Individuals who are in vegetative states generally have severe brain damage and lack true awareness of their surroundings. Needless to say, there is no way that a woman in this condition could have consented to having sex and getting pregnant.

The Phoenix-area nursing home in which the incident occurred was completely unaware that the resident was even pregnant until she went into labor. This horrific example of nursing home sexual abuse is, tragically, not an isolated incident. Thousands of innocent nursing home residents suffer every year from nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of nursing home or assisted living facility staff, you should know that there are steps you can take to recover compensation for damages and hold the perpetrators responsible.

Police Plan to Take DNA Samples from Nursing Home Staff

The Arizona nursing home in which the abuse occurred has been cooperating with authorities throughout the investigation. Police have taken DNA samples from the male employees at the nursing home which will then be compared to the DNA of the child in order to find his biological father. Detectives for the case also served the facility a search warrant to gather records and additional information. The 29-year-old victim who was impregnated is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The tribe's chairman expressed his feelings about the incident saying, "When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her."

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