Sex Offender Rapes Dementia Patient at Texas Nursing Home
The family of an elderly dementia resident has filed a lawsuit against Tristar Care Center Nursing and Rehabilitation in Fredericksburg, Texas, for its failure to protect the woman from a registered sex offender living as a resident in the facility. The lawsuit alleges that the negligent actions of the staff at Tristar led to the rape of an elderly dementia patient who required round-the-clock care.
Records show that on three separate occasions within a two-week period, a registered sex offender, that Tristar admitted as a resident, targeted and sexually assaulted Ms. Dorothy Gallardo in the privacy of her own room in the facility.
Between July 31, 2017, and Aug. 8, 2017, staff members of Tristar found the resident sex offender in Ms. Gallardo’s room. Each time, his intentions becoming abundantly clear. However, the nursing home and its staff failed to act.
In the first incident, a Tristar staff member found the sexual offender at the foot of Ms. Gallardo’s bed with the privacy curtain drawn. The staff member removed the sex offender from the room and did nothing else. Less than a week later, around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 6, the same resident sex offender was seen walking out of Ms. Gallardo’s room. Upon entering the room, a Tristar staff member found Ms. Gallardo with her blouse pushed up exposing her abdomen and her underwear pushed under her buttocks. The staff member simply pulled Ms. Gallardo’s underwear up and her blouse down and went on about their business.
On Aug. 8, a Tristar staff member caught the same sex offender in the act of raping Ms. Gallardo. The nursing home removed him from the room and sent Ms. Gallardo to the hospital for an exam. They also reported the incident to the police, who still have an on-going investigation.
Tristar Care admitted at least 15 registered sex offenders as residents during Ms. Gallardo’s nine-year stay in the facility.
To add insult to injury, rather than remove the sex offenders from the facility, Tristar asked Ms. Gallardo’s family to move her to another facility because they could not protect her from the registered sex offender. Ms. Gallardo had resided at Tristar for more than nine years. It was her home and she loved it. As a dementia patient, keeping Ms. Gallardo in a stable environment would have been in her best interest. Tristar also asked the families of several other female residents to move their loved ones from their facility for the same exact reason.
“This is an egregious example of nursing home neglect,” says Carlson Law Firm nursing home abuse attorney J.T. Borah. “Ms. Gallardo’s family spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect place for her to live. For nine years, it seemed as if they found it. However, unbeknownst to them, this perfect place was slowly turning into a dangerous place for their sister and aunt and they had no idea.
Eighty-three percent of victims of elderly sexual abuse are in institutional care environments such as nursing homes, according to research untaken by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), one of the more active coalitions in the evaluation of all types of sexual abuse.
“We send our loved ones into these facilities hoping that they will care for and protect them at all costs. Ms. Gallardo, as an elderly woman, a patient living with dementia, and a long-time resident of Tristar should have received better treatment and more deference than the registered sex offender ended up receiving. But in this case, it appears as if Tristar cared more about the money being generated from their 15 valued registered sex offender residents than the ladies they forced to leave their facility,” Borah adds.
Elder abuse is a growing danger for nursing home residents in the United States. Nursing home abuse is considered a silent condition because no one knows exactly how many of our nation’s elderly are exploited, neglected or abused each year. Evidence suggests that thousands are harmed every day. However, no comprehensive statistics exist for each state reports different and these cases are often underreported.
Being a woman is an inherent risk of elder sexual abuse. Women are six times more likely to be a victim of elder sexual abuse.
Additional factors for nursing home sexual abuse includes residents who suffering Alzheimer’s, dementia or any other form of memory loss or mental impairment. Sadly, these most vulnerable patients are often targeted because the abuser believes no one will believe their complaints. As a result, a resident’s mental impairment will give an abuser confidence that they can inappropriately without consequence.
When a loved one is at-risk for nursing home physical and sexual abuse, it is important to watch for signs of abuse. If you suspect nursing home abuse, contact attorneys with expertise handling nursing home physical abuse cases.
Researchers, lawmakers, and advocates for the elderly continue to address the issue of rape in nursing homes, including the need for better measures for identifying sexual assault incidents and their frequency. One of the primary reasons for concern is the fact that so many crimes against elderly individuals in nursing homes go unreported.
Continuing research indicates that there are several reasons why elderly sexual abuse is underreported, including:
- Elderly individuals are less likely to pursue psychological services following sexual abuse
- Elderly individuals often feel a great deal of shame and are uncomfortable speaking openly about sexual abuse
- Healthcare providers and caregivers often fail to recognize sexual abuse among elderly individuals
- Because elderly individuals often complain of aches, pains, and bruising, it is difficult to diagnose complaints as sexual abuse rather than a common malady of aging
Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse
Nursing home sexual abuse can manifest in mental changes in a person in addition to physical indicators.
- Pelvic Injuries
- Problems with walking or sitting
- Contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Bruises on the genitals or inner thigh
- Bleeding from anus or genitals
- Torn, bloody or stained underwear
- Pain in the anus or genitals
- Panic attacks
- Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder
- Symptoms agitation
- Social or emotional withdrawal
- Inappropriate sexual activities
- Unusual or aggressive sexual activities
- Suicide attempts