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California Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney

From Joel’s interview for the Masters of the Courtroom series on

Sexual abuse in nursing homes in California is increasing. Sexual contact without consent and violent or forced sexual contact constitutes abuse. Elder sexual abuse can range from unwanted touching to rape.

Many seniors with moderate to severe dementia lack the mental ability to consent to sexual contact. Although the elder’s body is that of an adult, their brain may be more like that of a child, due to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Many nursing home residents are weak, defenseless, and, unfortunately, often easy prey for sexual predators. Elderly residents can be sexually abused by another resident, a visitor to the facility, or an employee.

Sexual abuse can be accompanied by other forms of abuse, including emotional and physical abuse. This makes it extremely important to contact a knowledgeable San Diego elder abuse attorney like ​Joel Bryant.​ He and his team will take swift action by reaching out to the authorities to ensure your elder is no longer in harm’s way. Responding now could be the difference between a happy and healthy existence for your loved one, and serious trauma or even death.

How is elder sexual abuse defined?

Sexual abuse includes a vast array of crimes. The following actions can be found to be sexual abuse if carried out against an elder without consent:

  • Touching/groping of the genitals, breasts, buttocks, or anus
  • Sexual intercourse (or rape) including anal and oral penetration (sodomy)
  • Inserting objects or fingers into an elder’s vagina or rectum
  • Carrying out “medical practices” on an elder when not medically necessary such as creams, enemas, or soaps upon their genitalia, breasts, or buttocks
  • Cleansing either inner or outer areas of the genitalia with abrasive chemicals such as alcohol wipes

There are also forms of sexual abuse that are called “hands off” as they do not include physical contact; however, they are still forms of sexual abuse. These include:

  • Forcing an individual to watch others engaged in a sexual activity, including pornography
  • Watching a victim disrobe for no reason (such as a medical or hygiene one) other than sexual pleasure
  • Forcing an elder to disrobe outside of a medical setting in front of others
  • Making sexually explicit content of the victim without their consent such as videos, or pictures

Why does sexual abuse happen in nursing homes?

In addition to physical and mental disabilities, many other factors result in an increased risk of seniors being sexually abused in a nursing home, including:

  • Understaffing​: The nursing home management hires an insufficient number of nurses, nurse assistants, or other staff to safely monitor and care for residents. The lack of supervision allows the abuser to be alone with the elder (unsupervised and not monitored) for long periods of time
  • Lack of training​: Management hires inexperienced staff (who are cheaper) and fails to provide proper training to prevent and report sexual abuse.
  • Failure to perform background checks​: As a result, some workers with criminal backgrounds are hired to care for residents.
  • Inadequate security​: Management fails to implement reasonable security protocols and procedures to keep strangers from entering the facility and gaining access to the residents’ rooms.
  • Desire to conceal sexual assault​: Some nursing home management fail to promptly contact the authorities once they suspect that one of their residents has been sexually assaulted. Often, the management fails to do so because it doesn’t want the elder’s family to know, or doesn’t want the bad publicity that a reported sexual assault can cause.

How is sexual abuse concealed?

From Joel’s interview for the Masters of the Courtroom series on

It can be difficult to figure out that an elderly individual is being abused. Sometimes, an elder is in a vulnerable state and unable to communicate due to memory loss, a physical disability, a mental disability, or a combination. In other cases an elder may avoid reporting abuse if they fear that the perpetrator will lash out if others find out. If you suspect a loved one is being subjected to sexual abuse, it is important that you have a plan to safely remove the elder from the dangerous situation.

Another possibility is that the elder conceals the abuse out of embarrassment or shame. Finally, abuse may go unrecognized if an elder is isolated and is not frequently visited by a loved one who has the elder’s best interests at heart.

What are the signs of sexual abuse?

Even though sexual abuse can be hidden, you will have a much better chance of saving your loved one from a sexually abusive environment if you know what to look for. Indicators of sexual abuse include physical symptoms like injuries on the genitals or inner thighs, problems walking or sitting, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sexual abuse can also trigger an emotional response. Signs of emotional distress include depression, anxiety, withdrawal, agitation, or signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you suspect that someone has sexually abused your loved one in a nursing home, it is important to contact an experienced elder abuse attorney like Joel Bryant immediately.

Who is most likely to commit sexual abuse against a nursing home resident?

Sexual abuse is often committed by a person who is familiar with the elder, understands their vulnerable state, and takes advantage. This individual can be another resident, a nursing home staff member, or, occasionally, a random visitor or stranger. This means that the people who elders are left alone with are often perpetrators of abuse. Thus, it is extremely important that extensive research is done on potential caretakers prior to their employment.

How can I prevent sexual abuse against a loved one?

Unfortunately, not even the best prevention measures are fail-safe. However, there are several steps that can be taken to decrease the risk of a loved one being sexually abused.

One step to take is to frequently visit the elder at their nursing home or other place of residence. In doing so, you may be able to spot differences in the elder’s behavior and body language that may only be noticeable in-person. Also, in-person visits are a way to subtly examine the elder and ensure that their body does not show any signs of sexual abuse. Frequent visits make it more difficult for a perpetrator to cover up their abusive attacks, and, therefore, less likely that these attacks will occur. It is recommended that you visit at random times to ensure that the perpetrator is not relying on your visits at a certain time to then proceed to commit and cover up the abuse in accordance with your visiting schedule.

Finally, another way to prevent further sexual abuse in a nursing home is to know the signs as described above. Should you recognize one or more of these signs upon visiting, contact an elder abuse attorney right away.

Who is most at risk of being sexually abused in a nursing home?

All elderly individuals are vulnerable to sexual abuse due to the fact alone that they are generally weaker than the rest of the population. With that being said, there are elders that are even more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their peers. The first group of especially vulnerable people are those who suffer from memory loss and other cognitive impairment. Because it is harder for these dependent adults to recall information, abuse is more likely to go on undetected.

Another group that is more susceptible is elders with disabilities. Whether the elder has a physical or mental disability, or a combination of both, a disability will leave an elderly individual more vulnerable because they either cannot properly recognize/communicate the abuse, or they are physically defenseless to escape from their abuser. Finally, isolated elders are more susceptible to sexual abuse.

Contact a California Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today

Nursing home sexual abuse must be stopped and facility owners held responsible if a resident in their care becomes a victim. If one of your loved ones was sexually abused in a nursing home, ​contact ​Attorney Bryant and his team today. It is important for family to advocate on behalf of their elderly family members because many times, elderly individuals are unable to speak up.

Joel Bryant’s experienced team of ​California nursing home abuse attorneys​ can help recover the compensation you deserve, ensure that your loved one is no longer abused, and help hold the perpetrators responsible for their actions. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

“Joel and his team were the help I needed to approach the nursing home that didn’t take good care of my grandmother. With Joel’s help, my grandmother was fairly compensated for the injuries she suffered as a result of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse.”

Andrea C.

“When one of the most tragic events happened in my life, Joel Bryant and Jason Julius were there for me when I needed someone the most. They both were very professional, honest, compassionate, and supportive."

Brent R.

“Joel was amazingly accessible, by phone, email and often, in person, and still is. He is a professional with an understanding heart, and a sense of humor. I still feel very fortunate to have had him on my side.”

Michelle B.
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