Family members in nursing homes are vulnerable to abuse from other residents, nursing home employees, and nursing home management. Many nursing home residents are unable to speak out because of physical or mental impairments that make it difficult to communicate. Others are fearful of speaking out under threat from their abusers. Suspicions of abuse should be fully investigated, to protect family members and others from continued abuse.
In the past few weeks, a nursing home in Boulder, Colorado was found to have two unregistered sex offenders as residents, unknown to the rest of the individuals living in the facility. One of the men has been accused of inappropriate touching of a resident. The other is under investigation for sexual contact with residents.
Jerry Hinchliff was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender. He is also facing allegations that he harassed employees at the Boulder Manor Progressive Care Center, and inappropriately touched a female resident. A couple of weeks later, another resident, Albert Gradoz, was arrested with outstanding warrants for failure to register as a sex offender. He too is suspected of sexual abuse.
According to a news report on the arrests, the nursing home facility may not have a duty to inform other residents that a sex offender is living amongst them. A 2006 study found that there were about 700 registered sex offenders living in nursing homes in the U.S. However, that number may not account for unregistered sex offenders, which could be much higher.
In Illinois, individuals and family members can search the state sex offender directory to find information about sex offenders living in the area, including if they are living in a nursing home facility. However, if the sex offender failed to register, they may not turn up in a sex-offender search. An investigation by the Chicago Tribune found that only 59 out of 192 sex offenders living in Illinois nursing homes were listed in the online registry.
In some cases, the failure to notify family members or law enforcement of a sex offender living in the nursing home is caused by their failure to register. However, in other cases, the nursing homes fail to report the sex offenders. There have been a number of reported incidents where the nursing home failed to notify law enforcement that they were housing a convicted sex offender, as required under state law.
Just because these sex offenders are in a nursing home, does not mean that they are not able to harass, molest, or sexually assault other residents. A state public health report found that some sex offenders molested vulnerable nursing home residents.
Nursing home abuse can happen anywhere. Family members in nursing homes need an advocate to make sure they are treated with care and respect. If you suspect a family member in a nursing home has been injured or abused due to nursing home negligence, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois nursing home negligence law. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve and equal treatment under the law.