Oregon Nursing Home Patient Sexually Assaulted

By Nursing Home Law Center

Oregon Sexually Assaulted

Many Oregon nursing home patients are victimized by sexual assault and physical abuse. One such case involves a Portland man arrested on charges of alleged rape of an elderly resident in a nursing home. The suspect met the 73-year-old woman at church prior to repeatedly abusing her at her nursing home residence.

Portland police took 59-year-old suspect Richard D. Vandenberg into custody in July 2014 after the return of a grand jury indictment on July 18. According to documents, the victim suffered mental incapacitation and lacked the ability to provide consent.

Vandenberg was not an employee at the nursing facility where the sexual assault occurred. A criminal investigation was not conducted on the nursing facility.

Training the Staff

In order to best protect vulnerable residents living in a nursing facility, it is crucial for professional care workers to learn how to identify sexual assault and assist any victim by providing protection from any further abuse. In nearly every case, nursing home workers lack sufficient training in detecting and reducing the risk of sexual assault on the premises.

Education is crucial to provide the ultimate protection for every resident. The training should include:

  • Determining exactly what constitutes sexual assault
  • The development, implementation and enforcement of facility procedures and policies regarding sexual assault protection
  • Outlining exactly what is expected of every worker in regards to detecting and reporting any type of abuse including sexual assault
  • Outlining effective steps to prevent sexual assault

Educating Residents and Families

Just like the staff needs to understand every aspect of sexual assault in a nursing facility, so too do the residents and families of residents. While the typical experience of most residents in nursing facilities involves quality care in a generally safe environment, sexual assault still occurs unexpectedly. Educating residents and family members should involve:

  • Dispelling myths, opening dialogue, and overcoming naïve assumptions concerning sexual abuse.

  • Teaching residents and family members how to avoid feeling ashamed or embarrassed when discussing fears about sexual abuse.

  • Teaching residents and family members to turn to frontline workers at the facility to alert them or help them recognize any sign of abuse to help the resident.

  • Teaching long-term care providers why insufficient staffing places every resident at a greater risk of abuse.

  • Providing effective education on how to reduce sexual assault occurring in a nursing facility.

  • Teaching everyone in the facility to believe and accept complaints by residents who are victimized by sexual assault in order for them to regain control, receive proper medical treatment and avoid further trauma.

Common Types of Sexual Abuse

There is a full range of unacceptable behaviors that are often associated with most sexual abuse offenses. Some of these include:

  • Hands-Off Offense – Voyeuristic activities, exhibitionism, forcing residents to view pornographic material, sexual threats, harassment and other activities are considered sexual abuse, even though there is no hands-on offense.

  • Hands-On Offense – Any individual that kisses or molests the victim, or touches the buttocks, genitals or breasts of another can be guilty of a hands-on offense. A hands-on offense can include genital/oral contact or penetration with objects, fingers or sexual organs.

  • Harmful Genital Practices – Any kind of offense that involves intrusive, unwarranted or painful procedures when providing care to the resident’s rectal or genital areas can be considered a harmful genital practice. This can also involve the insertion or application of ointments, creams, enemas, thermometers, fingers, catheters, unnecessary objects or those not medically prescribed to ensure the well-being and health of the individual.

Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable and easy targets for rape. This is because they tend to be less likely to file a report or make an outright claim of sexual abuse.

In many incidences, the elderly individual thinks any reported action is less likely to be believed coming from them or is isolated from family and friends. Other times, they suffer reduced physical resilience or live with an increased dependence on the very caretakers that might be causing them sexual harm.

Related Information

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Resources

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