Articles Posted in Sexual Assault

Heritage Rehabilitation Center in Long Beach has been sued for a sexual assault that occurred there just last month. According to the lawsuit, filed by James Morgan, the victim “Jane Doe” was suffered elder abuse and neglect when a man entered her room through an unlocked window and assaulted her. The suit also claims there may be other victims.

The suit alleges that the nursing facility was chronically understaffed. According to Morgan, “This was an active time of the day and there was nobody anywhere, which supports our theory they didn’t have enough staff in there to look after residents or see people coming in from the outside.”

Heritage Rehabilitation Center is a 161 bed facility that has been in operation for more than 35 years. It currently maintains a three star (out of five) on Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare” website.

A former aide at a home for the disabled has been arrested and charged with molesting two female residents. Curtis Cortez, age 59, is being held on $100,000 bail after his arrest, and is expected to be charged with seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious actions by a caretaker upon a dependent person.

From news accounts, it appears the man has confessed his crimes to police, at least partially. When police confronted Curtis about the allegations, he offered a “Hawaiian defense.” He told authorities that he gave frequent hugs to people because it was part of his Hawaiian culture. He then volunteered that he was having problems with his girlfriend, and that he did touch one of the disabled woman’s breasts and genitals.

From a civil liability standpoint it is an interesting case. Curtis himself would obviously be liable for sexual assault and battery, but probably unable to pay a civil judgment. The question is, would the home be liable? Generally speaking, an employer is not liable for the intentional criminal acts of its employees, unless the acts were engendered by, or arose out, the employee’s duties. This one would be a close call.

A certified nursing assistant working in a San Diego nursing home is being held on charges of rape and elder abuse after being caught having sex with a nursing home resident. According to reports, an employee of the El Dorado Care Center in El Cajon walked into the room of an elderly patient and saw Felix Panem sexually assaulting the patient. Panem is being held on $450,000 bail, and faces a possible 10 year sentence if convicted.

Sexual assault in the nursing home is not common, but it is certainly not rare. Because of age and infirmity, including memory problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, nursing home residents can be fairly easy targets for the criminally inclined. The Walton Law Firm has has cases involving sexual assault, physical abuse, and burglary committed by employee caregivers. Sometimes it’s just a rouge employee, but there are times when the facilities fail to perform adequate background checks that would have revealed the criminal propensity of a caregiver.

Investigators told the Union Tribune that they believe that the elderly resident is Panem’s only victim, but believe that she may have been raped by him on other occasions. The El Dorado Care Center is a skilled-nursing facility on Washington Street in El Cajon, California.

SANTA BARBARA – Sheriffs have arrested a 35-year-old man in the alleged rape of a 36-year-old developmentally disabled woman. Christopher Coates was arrested last Wednesday and is being held on $100,000 bail.

According to new accounts, Coates was a caregiver at a residential care facility in Santa Barbara County (the name has not been released) in June when police received information from an employee, who told police that the victim had complained of being sexually assaulted. An investigation led to the arrest of Coates, who lives in Goleta, and who was no longer employed at the facility at the time of his arrest.

Under California law, the facility could be held responsible for the sexual assault upon the disable adult. California’s Elder Abuse Act applies equally to “dependent adults,” who are defined as individuals between the ages of 18 and 64, and who reside in a custodial care facility.

A nursing home in suburban Chicago has been sued for failing to protect a 69-year-old resident from a sexual assault by a 21-year-old mentally ill man. According to the lawsuit, which alleges nursing home negligence and elder abuse, the skilled nursing facility tried to cover up the rape by telling authorities that it was consensual sex.

This case highlights the dangers in mixing elderly residents with younger patients who suffer from mental illness. The lawyer from the victim contends that a profit motive drives homes to mix residents.

“The only possible reason that you would be in this situation is a profit motive,” said Pete Flowers, attorney for the woman. “You want more residents in your facility, but you’re unwilling to pay for the necessary elements to protect all the residents.”

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