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Repeated Sexual Abuse in Nursing Home Criminal

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A female resident was sexually abused three times by another resident, a known sexual predator, before police were called.

Oswego, NYA female resident in Pontiac Nursing Home in Oswego suffering from dementia was sexually abused three times by another resident who was admitted to Pontiac in 2019. Management declined to tell Pontiac’s doctor and other employees that he was a known sexual offender.

And Pontiac management didn’t call the police to report the “convicted known sexual predator” according to the New York State Department of Health a complaint survey, which included:

May 2019: Resident #2 (the sex offender) was at high risk for heterosexual behavior and exposed his penis to others.

March 14, 2020: Resident #1 (the victim) was found in the sex offender’s room. He had his head on her breast. His penis was exposed. Nursing home staff separated the two and began checking on them every 15 minutes. A social worker told the offender not to allow other residents in his room.

March 17: The 15-minute checks were discontinued.

March 26: A nurse aide found the sex offender in the woman’s room, lying naked on her bed with the offender’s hand inside her vagina. The two were separated, the offender was moved to a different unit, monitored every 30 minutes and a motion sensor was put on his room door.

A resident nurse was informed of the March incident, according to an inspection report. She was aware of Resident #2's criminal sexual status right after his admission to the facility and had contact with a detective who followed the resident. She could not state if the resident was registered in NYS, did not believe any contact had been made and she had not contacted anyone legally about his continued sexual behavior. She said that it would be the facility's responsibility to follow up with the resident predatory status. She did not feel abuse occurred with the incident due to the resident's cognitive level,  meaning Resident #1 and 2 did not have capacity to consent. 

August 22: the two were found in the sex offender’s room. He was found straddling her on his bed. A nurse aide said he was half-naked, she had her pants down and it looked like he had forced penetration. The predator was moved off that unit again.

A registered nurse investigated the August incident but she didn’t physically examine the woman because “nothing happened” and the director of nursing said she was unaware that the man was a convicted sexual predator. Pontiac’s administrator said the nursing home’s doctor neither instructed staff to call the police nor send Resident #1 to hospital for rape assessment. But the doctor was never made aware of Resident #2 ‘s prior sexual convictions and told the inspector that Resident #1 should have been examined and the police notified.

More Pontiac Abuse

Medicare identified Pontiac as a potential candidate for its list of “special focus facilities,” the nation’s worst-performing nursing homes with extensive histories of health and safety problems. The average number of health citations in the state of New York is three. Pontiac Nursing home in Oswego has 18 as of 2021.

One infection complaint reported that a certified nurse aid wore a surgical mask where the top edge of the mask was resting on her chin and her nose and mouth were exposed. And there’s more in the report. For instance, in 2016, two former Pontiac nurse aides were charged with felonies and misdemeanors after being accused of using cell phones to take inappropriate, demeaning photos of a resident.

Nursing Home Resident Abuse under the Radar

According to The New York Times, names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees were checked against FBI records, and this study found that almost 50 percent of nursing homes had five or more employees with at least one conviction. “For example, a nursing facility with a total of 164 employees had 34 with at least one conviction,” said Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. Levinson also noted that there are no federal laws or regulations in place requiring nursing homes to check whether applicants have federal or state criminal records.

Under federal law, it is illegal for nursing homes to employ anyone found guilty of abusing, neglecting or mistreating patients. But FBI records do not always indicate if the victim was a nursing home resident. And probably the biggest challenge for nursing homes is finding and keeping employees, given the low starting wage of $17 an hour.

A report by the National Research Council in the U.S. includes these facts:
  • On any given day, approximately 1.6 million people live in approximately 17,000 licensed nursing homes, and another estimated 900,000 to 1 million live in an estimated 45,000 residential care facilities.
  • Research suggests that the 2.5 million vulnerable individuals in these settings are at much higher risk for abuse and neglect than older persons who live at home.
  • Based on data from the National Mortality Followback Survey, researchers estimate that more than two-fifths (43 percent) of all persons who turned 65 in 1990 or later will enter a nursing home at some time before they die.

Nursing Homes Accountable for Abuse

Physical abuse also includes sexual abuse or nonconsensual sexual involvement of any kind, from rape to unwanted touching or indecent exposure. The main reason nursing home abuse and neglect occurs is due to understaffing, reports The New York Times.

Facilities receive revenue primarily from the federal and state government through Medicare and Medicaid based on the acuity of their residents. This means they report how much care is needed for their residents, and are given an amount related to each resident’s level of care.

To maximize profits, facility owners cut costs wherever they can and one of the biggest expenses is labor. Less staff usually results in neglect, such as the Pontiac case, which did not have enough staff to properly monitor a sexual predator.

New York has strict laws against nursing home abuse and neglect. Any victim of New York nursing home neglect that was wrongfully injured may bring a lawsuit against the negligent nursing home. If the victim is deceased or incapacitated, a power of attorney, executor or family member may bring the cause of action.


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