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Nursing home residents sexually assaulted by aide

Sexual assault is horrific for the victims under any circumstances. But when the victim is a senior citizen and nursing home resident suffering from dementia, it is especially appalling.

That's why a case that occurred in another state is currently making national headlines. An aide in a North Carolina nursing home was convicted of six counts of sexual assault, including forcible rape of physically helpless victims. He must serve no fewer than 23 years behind bars for his crimes.

Victims only tip of assault iceberg

Two residents at the nursing home who suffered from Alzheimer's testified against him in court. However, they are not his only accusers. At least eight different female residents at three separate nursing homes alleged that he sexually assaulted them. Their ages range from 50s to late 80s.

Because the majority of his accusers suffered from some form of dementia, nobody ever believed the women when they reported the assaults. Finally, a nurse called police to report the assault of one of the women who testified against the instructions of her boss. The second witness then corroborated the first.

Repercussions and consequences

The convicted aide, a 58-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, is appealing his conviction. The whistleblower nurse was fired and plans to sue. Some of the aide's accusers have died. After regulators determined that the facility was remiss for not protecting its residents from being sexually abused by a caregiver, it paid a fine in the six figures.

At least one of the witnesses still lives at the facility, although one accuser who got sent to the psych ward for her complaints about the aide lives in a different facility.

It's possible that some of the assaulted women could seek civil damages, but even could change. President Trump proposed limiting the options of abused nursing home residents to just arbitration with a privately-hired judge and no jury. Failing to sign an agreement to arbitrate claims would prevent patients from being admitted to these facilities.

The different rules of arbitration are usually more restrictive than those of the civil court systems. Even if plaintiffs prevail, their monetary awards can be considerably lower — up to 35 percent.

If your loved one suffers abuse in a nursing home, you may need to assist him or her in his or her quest for justice.

Source: CNN, "No one believed he would rape nursing home residents. Now he is going to prison," Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, Aug. 20, 2017

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