News spread last year about a horrific case of sexual assault perpetrated by a caregiver as a senior home. According to reports, the perpetrator was employed as an assistant at a nursing home. At some point on his shift, the 30 year old man snuck into the room of an 89-year old resident. The senior was allegedly showing signs of dementia at the time. After entering the room, the attacker gave the woman drugs that he knew would affect her cognitive abilities. It was then, while she was under the influence of the medication and trapped in the room with the caregiver, that he raped her.
Fortunately, the senior was aware of what happened, and reported the incident the very next morning to her daughter. The police were called and the perpetrator was soon identified. As often happens in these situations both criminal and civil cases arose from the incident.
Odd Settlement Details
On the criminal side, prosecutors pursued the matter and the caregiver eventually pled guilty to the crime. A sentence handed down in the matter earlier this year will send the man to prison for over four years.
A civil lawsuit was also filed against the caregiver, seeking compensation for the rape. A settlement was reached in the case recently. Per the released terms, the man will pay the victim slightly more than $1,000 and provide a similar payment to a local rape non-profit center. In addition, the man was ordered to pay $10 million to the resident in damages. Yet, there was a caveat to the payment of that significant sum. The man will only be required to actually pay the $10 million in damages if he commits another sexual crime. The payment would be triggered by any conviction for a sex crime or liability in any future elder abuse incident over the next ten years.
As a practical matter, it is likely that the man does not have anywhere near the resources necessary to pay the damages–even if he violates the settlement agreement. However, it is unclear if another civil lawsuit was filed against the facility itself. Nursing homes as an entity can be held responsible for the misconduct of their employees, or, similarly, for their own negligence in hiring practices that allowed intentional abuse to occur. Unlike individual wrongdoers, nursing homes often have insurance or other resources which can be use to provide actual compensation to the victims.
Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Illinois
This case is just the latest in the long list of reminders of the harm that can befall seniors in nursing homes. In fact, much of this mistreatment goes unreported. Victims are often scared of speaking up or ashamed of what happened. In other cases, seniors may have dementia or Alzheimers and are unable to fully appreciate poor care or even intentional abuse.
For this reason, it is incumbent upon friends, family members, and others to speak up whenever they suspect that a senior is being harmed. Authorities should be called, nursing home administrators need to be contact, and abuse attorneys may be needed to ensure full and complete accountability.
For help with these matters in Chicago, the suburbs, and throughout Illinois, please contact our legal team today.