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Vulnerability makes Illinois's ill, elderly sexual abuse targets

Illinois caregivers can take advantage of the direct contact they have with people they are paid to guide or help. Nursing home abuse can be hidden as employees perform routine tasks of washing, dressing or assisting residents. Weak or ill residents may not be capable of resisting an unwanted assault. In some cases, the victims' mental states prevent them from understanding or reporting what happened. 

The horrifying abuse can go unnoticed or ignored. Even when abuse is reported in elder care facilities, some nursing homes opt to investigate privately without involving police. The health care provider may be motivated to quiet assault reports and incidents for fear of losing a reputation, future business or government funding.

A nursing home in the western U.S. informed police of a woman resident's sexual assault claim in July. The surgical patient reported a nursing assistant forced himself upon her as she lay in bed. The employer's internal investigation later dismissed the "confused" woman's claims and rehired the aide.

Police made an arrest after a second complaint was filed in August. This time, the man was accused of abuse as he assisted another patient in a nursing home bathroom. The defendant - an employee for just six months before the first incident - confessed after initially denying the assaults. He said the job sexually excited him.

A court determined the nursing home employee could be charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing two at-risk adults. Another, similar charge was filed against the aide for the assault of a third "helpless" nursing home resident - a 93-year-old woman.

Sexual predators target victims they believe won't fight back, not necessarily physically but legally. Sexual offenders harm older adults because they think they can get away with it. Negligent nursing homes let them. The criminal is convinced that if sexual abuse is reported, authorities will question the victims' credibility because of age or infirmity.

Source: broomfieldenterprise.com, "Third victim could be part of Broomfield nursing home sex assault case" Megan Quinn, Oct. 03, 2013

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