Kankakee nursing homes should be a safe place for nursing home residents to continue living their lives with the assistance of caring and dedicated individuals. Unfortunately, vulnerable residents may become victims of sexual abuse in their nursing homes, often by people they trusted. When residents are subjected to this type of trauma, there may be a range of far-reaching physical or emotional consequences. Your loved one was subjected to trauma at a place where they were should have been most protected and cared for. At Spiros Law, P.C., we are committed to fighting for those who have been taken advantage of and may seek compensation from the abusive party so your loved one’s future is more secure.
Our Kankakee nursing home abuse lawyers understand how devastated you may be when a person you entrusted your loved one’s care to breached that trust. We want you to feel comfortable letting our compassionate and diligent Kankakee legal team fight for your loved one’s rights so the assailants are held accountable. Our team handles cases like this with professionalism and diligence. Your loved one deserves prompt attention so that their legal rights are protected. Our team is ready and able to take your case.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sex crimes remain one of the most controversial types of cases to make it into courtrooms. The justice system often struggles to determine where to draw the line with consent and how to determine what counts as sexual misconduct. In the state of Illinois, unwanted sexual touching generally qualifies as sexual assault or sexual abuse. Consent can be another issue, as the victim may be unable to clearly consent or refuse conduct or behavior directed at them. We must do better to make sure the ones who are vulnerable are protected from this kind of egregious behavior and abuse.
Sexual abuse remains such a long-standing issue for people of all age groups that universities have launched programs to tackle it. One such program launched by the University of Illinois adds further details to the definition of sexual abuse, based on state law:
- Sexual acts committed by using force or the threat of force
- Sexual acts committed without the person’s knowledge, such as when unconscious
- Sexual acts committed against individuals who cannot give consent because they do not understand the nature of the act
In evaluating this type of abuse, there are situational circumstances that must be taken into account. A victim’s inability to communicate effectively cannot be taken as consent in any situation. Our firm is experienced in cases like these, and it is our privilege to stand up for the rights of those who are unable to speak up for themselves. We can defend the nursing home resident’s legal rights and hold those who are responsible for the abuse accountable for their actions.
Prevalence of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
For years, the health care profession ignored sexual assault and rape within nursing home environments. Facilities handled matters privately and often, not at all. Then, CNN started to publish reports about the rape epidemic in nursing homes. It brought worldwide attention to a risk most people might never consider.
It is an unspeakable type of abuse nursing homes would rather pretend didn’t exist. Unfortunately, it does, and real lives are affected by this misconduct. It is important to promptly report abuse quickly, not only to protect your loved one but to save others from the same misfortune.
In 2017, CNN published an eye-opening report stating that 1,000 nursing homes received citations from the federal government. These citations resulted from mishandling cases or failing to report cases of sexual abuse that occurred between 2013 and 2016. Roughly 10% of those facilities received multiple citations during that period. While we know that 1,000 nursing homes received citations, assumptions could be made that there were many other violations that were never even reported.
The news agency also found that victims with mental disabilities faced higher risks because people did not believe them. These included not just seniors but other adults residing in long-term care facilities. In fact, one of the most disturbing cases reported by CNN involved a 29-year old woman in a years-long vegetative state who gave birth.
This type of behavior is a clear violation of human decency. These nursing homes owe a duty to the residents within their facilities to protect, keep safe and care for each of its residents. Suspicion of wrong-doing should also be properly investigated to ensure every report is taken seriously.
Potential Sexual Abusers
Good nursing homes straddle a thin line between overseeing all interactions with patients and allowing some privacy. Negligent nursing homes put patients at risk of heightened sexual abuse by either putting too much trust in staff members or blatantly covering up incidents. No matter the trust the facility may have in its workers, caution should prevail. Routine checks on patients should take place, as should periodic audits of staff to make sure that all policies and procedures are being followed.
Sometimes the assailant does not work for the facility at all. In those cases, safety protocols can help protect residents from misconduct. These are some of the people who might attempt to victimize your loved ones:
- Health care professionals
- Contractors servicing the facility
- Residents living at the facility
- People visiting residents at the facility
- People visiting the patient
Any elderly or incapacitated resident of a nursing home could be a victim of sexual abuse. Suspicious behavior should be reported and properly investigated. The residents living in the nursing home deserve to be protected and cared for. The facility, its workers, and family and friends of the residents should be vigilant for any warning signs of inappropriate behavior or misconduct.
Potential Signs of Sexual Abuse
In many cases, a victim of sexual abuse in a Kankakee nursing home may be unable to report their abuse for a variety of reasons. Seniors often remain silent out of fear, especially if the perpetrator used force or threat of force. They might also feel ashamed or think that no one will believe them. These nursing home residents have no quick way out of their situation, and the fear of retaliation can be overwhelming.
Because of this, nursing home staff and family members play an important role in determining whether sexual abuse may have taken place. Even if you’re not certain that abuse is occurring, suspicions should be reported. Those reports could prevent misconduct. Every report should be investigated by the nursing home or an outside entity if the report involves a staff member. Common signs of sexual abuse you should be aware of include:
- Unexplained blood stains
- Ripped undergarments
- Bruising on body
- Trouble walking
- Irritation around genitals
- Broken glasses
If you notice any warning signs of sexual abuse, it is imperative you speak to the authorities so they can document the crime, and then be sure to call a Kankakee nursing home sexual abuse attorney. The sooner you act, the fresher the evidence, and the more willing witnesses often are to speak at a hearing.
At Spiros Law, P.C., our team is ready to fight for cases like this. We have the experience and skill set needed to properly evaluate your case and work towards finding a resolution that best protects the victim. We are ready to stand up for your loved one’s rights.
The Impact of Abuse On Victims
No matter how young or old someone is, sexual abuse can take a harsh toll on their feelings of self-worth. Victims often report feeling dirty, cheapened, or helpless. These and other negative feelings can cause them to become withdrawn or depressed. Some victims might even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sexual abuse isn’t always just physical. It is often emotional and can take a toll on many aspects of the victim’s life. Because of this, it is not uncommon for the victim of these crimes to suffer from depression or anxiety. This kind of emotional strain can make a significant impact on the victim’s life and overall well-being.
Mental stressors like these can significantly shorten someone’s lifespan. Even if they do not attempt to take matters into their own hands, they might lose interest in daily activities and self-care. It can also lead to strained relationships with family members. This is especially likely in situations where a family member, such as a spouse, may be the perpetrator.
Nursing Home Obligations
When you agree to let your loved one live at a long-term facility, you received promises from the nursing home. These are contractual agreements that you should have received in writing. In addition to this, the nursing home must comply with state and federal laws. Professionals within the organization also need to adhere to ethical and legal requirements within their professions.
The nursing home is responsible for ensuring that its employees and other staff adhere to the policies and procedures that are in place to protect all those within the nursing home facility. Nursing home facilities should perform thorough background checks on employees and staff prior to hiring. They should make sure all staff members are trained in correct procedures before they are allowed to work with residents.
One of the most important obligations the nursing home has is the duty of care. To fulfill this obligation, nursing homes must provide adequate care to their residents and protect them from harm. They further this duty when they take steps to prevent misconduct from occurring.
Eliminating any staff with prior misconduct isn’t the only step the facility should take to protect the residents. All visitors, staff, and workers should stay aware and act upon any red flags they see while on the job or within the facility. Potential types of abuse that might constitute harm to a resident include physical, emotional, financial, and sexual. See additional responsibilities below:
- Screen patients coming into the facility to ensure violent offenders do not move in.
- Screen potential professionals seeking employment at the facility to ensure violent offenders do not work at the facility.
- Take action against employees that become convicted of violent offenses that could put residents at risk.
- Check sex offender registries to ensure neither staff, contractors nor residents appear on the list.
- Investigate all reports even when they do not appear credible, or the person reporting the incident might suffer from mental disabilities.
Possible Actions You Can Take
If you decide to pursue legal action against the responsible parties, there are several avenues open to you. Because nursing home staff and caretakers are required to provide a safe environment and adequate care for their residents, failure to do so can be evidence of nursing home negligence. However, sexual abuse can still occur despite proper protocols being followed. If you believe you or a loved one has been sexually abused, you can press charges and possibly be awarded financial compensation to secure your loved one’s future.
If convicted, the abuser could spend years behind bars. However, some otherwise respectable members of society sometimes get off lightly. This is why it’s so important to gather enough evidence to paint a picture judges would have a difficult time sweeping aside as trivial. The party responsible for the abuse needs to be held accountable. This type of behavior should not be tolerated, and by quickly and effectively building your case, Spiros Law, P.C. can help protect your loved one’s legal rights.
Whether you pursue criminal charges or not, you may also pursue a civil case against the nursing home. Even if the person who committed the act is within your family, if the nursing home knew about the incident and did not take appropriate action, it may become liable. You are allowed to pursue all legal options in defending your loved one’s legal rights.
Unlike other personal injury cases, courts tend to focus primarily on non-economic damages. Here are some of the items you might receive compensation for:
- Medical bills for physical injuries
- Expenses related to mental health services
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Punitive damages for severe cases
Contact a Kankakee Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Help
If you wait too long to press charges or file a claim, you might miss the opportunity. This is because of statutes of limitations that exist regarding various civil and criminal cases. To add to this, the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather evidence, especially physical evidence. This can severely hamper a case that might otherwise have been successful. These cases deserve diligent representation, not only to protect your loved one but to potentially save others from experiencing the same heartbreaking situation.
At Spiros Law, P.C., we have qualified attorneys who take pride in handling cases like yours. Our team is here to guide you and your loved one through the intricacies of your case. The sooner we can start gathering evidence and building your case, the better. Sexual abuse cases should be handled promptly and with great care. There are lives at risk, and the victims deserve justice.
Are you ready to ensure your loved one receives justice for the heinous acts committed against them? Contact Spiros Law, P.C. at (815) 929-9292 so our Kankakee nursing home sexual abuse lawyers can seek the justice you feel your family deserves. You can learn more here.