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Elder Sexual Abuse

Get Legal Help for Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities

Senior woman staring off into the distanceSexual elder abuse is any non-consensual, sexual contact, exposure or activity when a resident or patient is incapable of giving consent. It is illegal. Perpetrators of elder sexual abuse seek out the most vulnerable individuals to target. These may be people who cannot stand up for themselves and say no, or report the abuse, because they are mentally or physically incapacitated in some way.

If you are suffering from elder sexual abuse or suspect that a loved one is suffering, do not hesitate to act. Our attorneys are available to discuss your unique situation and your legal options during a free consultation.

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What Is Elder Sexual Abuse in California?

Elder sexual abuse in California is any non-consensual, sexual contact, exposure or activity with an adult 65 years of age or older. “Non-consensual” may encompass any of the following statements:

  • The older person does not give his or her consent.
  • The older person is incapable of giving consent or giving informed consent.
  • The older person is threatened, coerced or manipulated into sexual contact.
  • The older person is physically forced into sexual contact.

Perpetrators of elder sexual abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are often:

  • Staff members
  • Other residents
  • Visitors to the facility

Skilled nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have a legal duty to monitor and safeguard residents from harmful and unlawful behavior. However, many facilities should be doing more to protect vulnerable residents. Needham Kepner & Fish LLP elder abuse attorney Kirsten Fish was quoted in CNN saying:

“As with nearly every type of abuse and neglect seen in nursing homes, the better staffed the facility the less likely sexual abuse will occur. This is a crime of opportunity, so the more supervision the better.”

What Are Examples of Elder Sexual Abuse?

Any sexual contact, exposure or activity is considered abuse when it is non-consensual. The following unwanted behaviors or actions constitute sexual abuse:

  • Kissing
  • Touching or fondling
  • Sexual intercourse (rape), including anal or oral copulation (sodomy) and attempted rape
  • Coerced or forced nudity outside of a medical setting
  • Forcing an older person to view others engaged in sexual contact
  • Forcing an older person to watch pornography
  • Sexual comments, jokes or stories toward an older person
  • Pornographic pictures or videos of the older person

What Are Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities?

Signs of sexual elder abuse in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may include physical and/or behavioral signs. Physical signs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bruises around the arms, legs, breasts and/or genital area
  • Scrapes on the hands, wrists, ankles and thighs (may indicate forceful restraint)
  • Unexplained pelvic pain or injury
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted disease (STD), infection or HIV
  • Difficulty or pain when walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear
  • Torn, stained or bloody bedding

A few behavioral signs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Regressive behaviors, such as becoming socially or emotionally withdrawn
  • Depression
  • Unexplained anxiety and/or fear, especially in the presence of a certain individual
  • Panic attacks
  • Resisting certain kinds of care (i.e. bathing)

What to Do If You Suspect Elder Sexual Abuse in California

Sexual elder abuse is illegal and criminally punishable. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from sexual elder abuse, and is in immediate danger, call your local authorities.

You should also try to speak with your loved one in private about any physical or behavioral signs you have noticed that may indicate sexual abuse. Though this is an uncomfortable and painful situation, listen to your loved one about what he or she has to say about the signs you point out. Document this conversation the best you can.

Here are six steps to take if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect. These steps include:

  1. Call your local authorities.
  2. Talk to your loved one.
  3. Report the suspicion to the facility’s administration.
  4. Document the perceived abuse.
  5. File a formal complaint against the facility.
  6. Discuss your situation with an elder abuse attorney.

How Our Elder Sexual Abuse Attorneys Can Help

When you retain the services of our dedicated elder abuse attorneys, you get access to extensive knowledge, resources and compassion. We help our clients hold elder abuse perpetrators responsible by working to recover monetary compensation for the damages and harm caused by these actions.

Contact Kirsten Fish and the nursing home abuse attorneys at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP about your unique situation. We are available to answer your questions and guide you through your potential legal options during a free consultation. Call us at (408) 956-6949 or contact us online and we will be in touch with you soon.

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