Charges of first-degree rape by instrumentation have been filed against 94-year-old Lester Pendergast. The charges stem from a September, 2008 incident when a witness caught Pendergast performing a sexual act on a 67-year-old at the Grace Living Center in Oklahoma. A local hospital used a rape kit to confirm the sexual contact had taken place.
According to a statement released by the facility, “Grace Living Center of Edmond takes the responsibility to protect all residents very seriously. We discovered the incident and immediately took steps to provide for the safety and care of the residents; we reported the matter to the health department and police; and the male resident was promptly removed from the facility. We have cooperated fully with authorities throughout the investigation.”
A Perfect Cause, an organization dedicated to long-term care reform, believes it is in the best interest of other nursing home residents to publicly identify Mr. Pendergast as a sexual offender.
Oklahoma is slated to be the first state in the country to open a special nursing home dedicated to housing sex offenders exclusively.
Sex Offenders In Nursing Homes
Currently, our nursing home system does little to prevent known sexual predators from becoming part of the general nursing home population. As we can see by this case, age does not take away violent tendencies.
In order for nursing home residents to live safely, nursing homes should take preventative measures: conducting background screens of all residents, refusing to accept known sex offenders as residents, keeping younger nursing home residents away from the older ones and providing adequate supervision.
According to Kathleen Dugan of The Lebanon Daily News, common signs of sexual abuse include:
Physical signs of sexual abuse:
- Bruising on inner thighs
- Genital or anal bleeding
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Pain and/or itching in the genital area
- Exacerbation of existing illness
Emotional signs of sexual abuse:
- Scared or timid behavior
- Depressed, withdrawn behavior
- Sudden changes in personality
- Odd, misplaced comments about sex or sexual behavior
- Fear of certain people or of physical characteristics
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