How Common is Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes?

How Common is Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Just over 2 years ago, Mark Allen Keeney awoke to a knock on the door of his motel room in southeast Missouri. Two officers demanded that Mark tell them who was staying in the room with him. As the sheriff’s deputy and police chief looked around while stepping over empty beer cans, they found two women – both of whom were described in a state report as mentally ill and under the care of a guardian.

18 months later, Mark Keeney, owner of Keeney Country Homes, was charged with rape and sodomy. The case was dismissed so prosecutors refiled in February. He pled not guilty.

The Sad Truth about Sexual Abuse in Nursing Home Facilities

Sexual abuse, one of the several forms of elder abuse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, is a largely hidden problem nationwide.

Alarmingly, the abuse is hidden in many ways: sometimes behind reporting systems that fail to note the complaint; other times it’s hidden behind business incentives that result in facility owners neglecting to reveal the abuse; oftentimes, it hides behind the reluctance of family and friends, who may not want to be involved or simply just can’t believe it’s possible.

No one wants to believe that their friend, spouse or relative has been sexually abused in a facility that they may have placed them in.

Statistics on Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

Believe it or not, the statistics don’t lie. One federal program has cataloged more than 20,000 complaints of sexual abuse at long-term care facilities over 20 years – a rate of nearly three such complaints a day.

Below is a graphic depicting the horrifying truth about the frequency of these complaints.

sexual abuse complaints on the rise

As shocking as that number may be, it does not include resident on resident abuse (incidents where one nursing home resident sexually assaults another).

This epidemic has finally been brought to light on a nationwide scale. CNN recently opened an investigation called, “Sick, Dying And Raped In America’s Nursing Homes.”

The reporting found that the nursing homes themselves are a huge part of the problem. More than 500 facilities have been cited for failing to thoroughly investigate and report allegations of sexual abuse to authorities and also for not properly screening employees in an effort to uncover a history of prior behavior or potentially abusive pasts.

Another issue that goes hand in hand with this is that many of the facilities that currently house over 1 million senior citizens typically pay low wages to nursing assistants (about $11 or $12 per hour), which makes it difficult to attract and keep quality workers.

Why Do Sexual Abuse Cases Stay Hidden?

What CNN uncovered was that while many nursing home employees will promptly report abusers to authorities, the facilities themselves make it possible for violent rapes and sexual assault to go unchecked.

Due to the fact that many victims have cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s, many allegations get dismissed. Furthermore, workers often lack the specific training required to spot sexual abuse, sadly keeping such offenses from ever reaching authorities.

As upsetting as all of this may be, it’s important that it is brought to the surface. The more that we are aware of the statistics, risks, and signs of sexual abuse, the better the chances are for preventing it from happening.

Knowing the Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse in nursing homes can take on many different forms. Unfortunately, victims of sexual abuse do not always tell their families or loved ones. Therefore, it’s important to know and spot the physical signs of sexual abuse, including:

  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections
  • Ripped or bloody undergarments
  • Bruises on the breasts, inner thighs, buttocks, or genitalia

To learn more about the signs and types of sexual abuse in nursing homes, we’d encourage you to read our resource on the Types of Nursing Home Abuse.

If you have questions or believe someone has been sexually abused in a long-term care facility, do not hesitate to call our legal team or contact us directly.


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