The decision to place an elderly parent into a nursing home is never easy. However, there is some comfort in knowing that a parent will receive the medical attention they need. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes provide adequate care. In some cases, nursing home workers actively abuse residents, resulting in physical harm or even death.
For most people, the thought of physically or sexually abusing an elderly nursing home patient is unthinkable. Unfortunately, it is more common that we would like to think. An employee of a central Illinois nursing care facility was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for soliciting men to sexually assault elderly nursing home residents while he videotaped them.
Channing Butler, 26, of Champaign, Illinois pleaded guilty to the crime of solicitation to commit aggravated criminal sexual assault of three elderly women who lived in the assisted living facility where he worked. Criminal charges are also pending against three other suspects. Butler was a certified nursing assistant. He was the sole caretaker of the residents during the overnight shift.
Butler initially pleaded not guilty to six counts of soliciting to commit sexual assault. According to police investigators, Butler tried to pay other men to have sex with elderly dementia patients while videotaping the rapes. He was admitting outsiders into the nursing home facility for weeks, trying to get them to have sex with the patients with severe memory problems.
A prosecutor says it is unclear whether Butler was trying to sell the videos, or was motivated by his own sexual gratification. Images from Butler's phone supported the claims against him. Pictures and text messages involve discussing solicitation, payment and recording sex acts with individuals over the age of 70.
Solicitation to commit aggravated criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony in Illinois. Criminal penalties range from four to 15 years in prison. Butler could have faced life in prison if sentenced to the maximum for each of the six counts. Instead, by pleading guilty, he was only sentenced to 14 years.
Police said that no sexual assaults actually occurred. While the patients suffered dementia, they were able to defend themselves, preventing the videotaped rapes. “They tried to do this and the victims kept pushing them away,” said state attorney Steve Ziegler. The three victims were aged 88, 90 and 95. Since Butler's arrest, one of the patients has died.
"It happened in the middle of the night,” said Ziegler, “but at the time it happened, they were awake or conscious.” Champaign police began investigating Butler after one of the men allegedly solicited to perform sex acts on the elderly women got a guilty conscience. After the unnamed man was arrested on other charges, he told police about the alleged elderly rape solicitation. Of the individuals involved, three are now in prison.
If you suspect a family member in a nursing home is being subjected to abuse or has been injured 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.