Kansas City Elder Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Sexual Abuse & Assault in Nursing Homes
Sexual abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is relatively rare, but it happens more often than many people realize. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual abuse is the least common type of nursing home abuse in the U.S.—yet as many as 2.6% of older adults in institutional settings suffered sexual abuse (as reported by both older adults and their proxies, as well as staff) in 2017. And, according to a report from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), more than 20,000 complaints involving sexual abuse in nursing homes were filed over the past 20 years.
At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., we believe that even a single act of abuse against an elderly individual is one too many. If you or your loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted caregiver, nursing home, or long-term care facility, you have the right to take legal action. By filing a claim, you can not only seek fair compensation for your medical expenses and other damages, but you can also work to hold the liable party accountable for the immense pain and suffering they have caused.
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What Is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse includes any unwanted or nonconsensual sexual conduct, including sexual acts and groping. When a person cannot legally grant consent—due to age, impairment, or other—any sexual act committed against them by another can be classified as abuse.
Some examples of sexual abuse include:
- Rape: Rape involves non-consensual sexual intercourse, where penetration is forced upon the victim through physical force, coercion, manipulation, or incapacitation.
- Attempted rape: Attempted rape refers to an unsuccessful or incomplete act of rape, where the perpetrator tries to engage in non-consensual sexual intercourse but is thwarted before completion.
- Molestation: Molestation involves inappropriate or unwanted sexual behavior towards another person, often a child, through touching, fondling, or other sexual acts.
- Groping: Groping refers to touching or fondling someone in a sexual manner without their consent, often in a public setting or crowded environment.
- Forced sexual acts: This encompasses a range of sexual acts, including oral sex, anal sex, or other sexual activities, that are imposed upon someone against their will or without their consent.
- Exposing oneself: This involves intentionally exposing one's genitals or engaging in indecent exposure in front of another person without their consent.
- Unwanted kissing or touching: This includes any form of kissing, touching, or physical contact of a sexual nature that is unwanted or non-consensual.
- Preventing someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs): This can involve coercing or manipulating someone into engaging in sexual activity without protection, thereby increasing their risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
Sexual abuse and assault of all kinds are never acceptable. If you believe that you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home or similar setting, take immediate action. If you believe that you or your loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. In all other instances, you may report known or suspected elder sexual abuse to law enforcement and/or the appropriate state agency.
What Are the Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse?
Elderly individuals who have experienced sexual abuse may be unwilling or afraid to report the abuse. Others, including those with mental impairments, may be incapable of reporting it or even recognizing that what they have experienced constitutes abuse. For these reasons, it is very important that family members and loved ones know the signs of elder sexual abuse.
Some of the most common signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities include:
- Unexplained injuries, including bruises, scratches, and scrapes
- Injuries to or near the groin, thighs, genitals, or female breasts
- Newly developed sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- New or worsened depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
- Withdrawal, agitation, irritability, and mood swings
- Torn, damaged, or stained clothing
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia, excessive sleep, fatigue, etc.)
- Apparent fear of being around a caregiver or resident
If you notice these or any other signs of elder abuse, contact the appropriate authorities right away. Then, reach out to our team at the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr. to learn how we can help you and your loved one seek justice.
How Elder Sexual Abuse Can Lead to a Civil Lawsuit
Elder sexual abuse constitutes a violation of the victim's fundamental rights to safety, dignity, and bodily autonomy. Civil lawsuits provide a legal avenue for victims to seek redress for these violations and hold perpetrators accountable.
In many cases of elder sexual abuse, there may be allegations of negligence on the part of caregivers, nursing homes, or other responsible parties. Civil lawsuits allow victims to pursue compensation for damages resulting from the negligence of these entities, such as failing to adequately screen staff, provide proper supervision, or respond appropriately to reports of abuse.
Victims of elder sexual abuse may incur significant medical expenses for physical injuries, as well as psychological counseling and therapy to address emotional trauma. Civil lawsuits seek compensation for these expenses, as well as damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.
In cases where the elder sexual abuse involves egregious misconduct or willful disregard for the victim's rights, civil lawsuits may seek punitive damages. Punitive damages aim to punish the perpetrator or responsible parties and deter similar misconduct in the future.
Civil lawsuits for elder sexual abuse serve as a means of accountability for perpetrators and institutions that fail to protect vulnerable elderly individuals. By holding wrongdoers accountable and imposing financial liability, civil lawsuits incentivize institutions to implement stronger safeguards and preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of elderly residents.
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Who Is Liable for Nursing Home Sexual Abuse?
Caregivers, fellow residents, and even trusted friends and loved ones may commit acts of sexual abuse and violence against elderly individuals. Liability for sexual abuse at a nursing home can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the abuse and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction.
Multiple parties may potentially be held liable for sexual abuse in a nursing home, including:
- Individual Perpetrators: If a staff member, another resident, or any other individual commits sexual abuse within the nursing home, they can be held personally liable for their actions. In most cases, this can lead to criminal charges and civil lawsuits.
- Nursing Home Facility: The nursing home facility itself may be held liable if they were negligent in their duty to provide a safe environment for residents. This includes failing to properly screen and supervise employees, inadequate training, or ignoring complaints of abuse.
- Staff Members: If the sexual abuse is committed by a staff member, the nursing home may be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. This means that the nursing home can be held responsible for the actions of its employees in the course of their employment.
- Management and Supervisory Staff: Managers, administrators, and supervisory staff within the nursing home may also be held liable if they were aware of the abuse or should have been aware of it but failed to take appropriate action to prevent or address it.
- Corporate Owners or Operators: In some cases, the corporate entity that owns or operates the nursing home may also be held liable, especially if there is evidence of systemic issues or a culture of negligence within the organization.
- Contractors and Third-Party Service Providers: If the abuse involves individuals or services contracted by the nursing home, these third parties may also be held liable if they were directly involved or contributed to the abuse in some way.
Nursing homes and other care facilities have a responsibility to their residents. They must take all necessary measures to protect their safety, health, and wellbeing. When they fail to uphold this duty, leading to abuse, these facilities can be held liable for victims’ damages. In many cases, the individual abuser can also be held liable.
It is important that you speak with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney, like those at the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., who can review the details of your case and determine how to proceed. Our Kansas City nursing home sexual abuse attorneys pursue all possible avenues of compensation when it comes to maximizing our clients’ recoveries. We are committed to holding all responsible parties accountable as we fight for justice for you and your family.
Steps to Take If You Suspect Sexual Abuse in a Nursing Home
It can be difficult to come to terms with the possibility of sexual abuse occurring in a nursing home where your loved one resides. However, it is important to take action and report any suspicions to the proper authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one and others in the facility.
Here are some steps you can take if you suspect sexual abuse:
- Speak to your loved one: Ask your loved one if they have experienced any inappropriate behavior or sexual contact from staff or other residents. Listen carefully to their response and take their concerns seriously.
- Report to the nursing home: Notify the nursing home administration and file a formal complaint. Ask for a written report of the incident and request that an investigation be conducted.
- Report to the authorities: Contact the police or local law enforcement and report the suspected sexual abuse. They can conduct a thorough investigation and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
- Contact a lawyer: Consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer who can help protect your loved one's rights and seek justice for the harm they have suffered.
At the Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr., LLC, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your loved one.
What Types of Damages Are Available in Elder Sexual Abuse Cases?
Every case is different; the exact types of damages you may be entitled to recover will depend on the various details of your case.
That being said, many plaintiffs in these types of cases are able to seek compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Financial loss
- Mental and physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety and depression
Sometimes, we can even seek punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are meant to punish defendants who cause injury and psychological harm through egregious or gross negligence, as well as intentional acts of violence.
Let Our Compassionate Legal Team Fight for You
Led by founding attorney, Tom Wagstaff, our team truly cares about the individuals and families we serve. We handle every case as though it were our only one, and we treat every client like a member of our own family. Our Kansas City nursing home sexual abuse lawyers take the time to get to know each client, listen to their story, and share how they can help them navigate the legal system as they seek the justice they are owed.
We represent clients in all types of nursing home abuse and neglect cases throughout Missouri and Kansas. Our team understands the sensitive nature of these cases and will never ask for more details than are completely necessary to effectively pursue your claim. We do not collect any attorney fees unless we successfully recover a settlement or verdict for you.
Call (816) 597-4556 or reach us online using our secure contact form today to request a free and confidential consultation with a member of our legal team.