Columbia, S.C., March 01, 2012 – Reacting to a Charleston TV station’s recent report, South Carolina nursing home abuse attorney Bert Louthian said today that the state’s nursing homes should alert residents and their families when a registered sex offender moves into the facility.
Louthian also said that nursing home operators need to take more steps to guard against sexual abuse in long-term care facilities.
“Sexual abuse in nursing homes poses a grave threat to residents,” Louthian said. “Placing known sex offenders in a facility without issuing alerts or installing safeguards increases the risk that a resident will become a victim of nursing home sexual abuse..
Louthian’s Columbia personal injury law firm, The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., represents nursing home abuse and neglect victims across South Carolina.
He was reacting to report on Charleston’s WCSC Live 5 News. The report revealed that at least three registered sex offenders are living in Charleston area nursing homes.
There is no state law requiring facility managers to notify residents and their families or guardians about their presence. According to the report, the only way to find out if a sex offender resides at a long-term care facility is to check the address on South Carolina’s sex offender registry.
That’s not enough, Louthian said.
“To better protect residents from sexual predators, nursing home operators need to provide active, written notifications before a sex offender arrives at the facility,” he said.
“If a sex offender is placed at a home, management must install adequate security measures to keep other residents safe from any potential abuse threat,” he said.
According to A Perfect Cause, an Oklahoma-based nursing home safety advocacy group, there are more than 2,000 sex offenders living in nursing homes across the country.
The group told WCSC Live 5 News that it has documented more than 80 instances where sex offenders have committed rape, assault and murder while residing in U.S. long-term care facilities.
“It’s not a question of if; it’s already happened. The only question is when it’s going to happen again,” Wes Bledsoe, the founder of A Perfect Cause, told the TV station, referring to the likelihood of a nursing home resident falling victim to a sex offender.
A Perfect Cause makes these recommendations for decreasing the threat of nursing home sexual abuse:
- Establish separate and secure long-term care facilities for violent and sexual offenders.
- Post conspicuous notification if offenders are residing in facilities
- Require criminal background checks for all residents.
- Install video and radio frequency monitoring systems.
- Hire onsite security personnel.
- Provide basic state or federal correctional training for all staff.
- Develop an offender management and re-entry program.
- Track all criminal acts in long-term care facilities and the assailants who commit these acts.
Louthian, a South Carolina elder abuse attorney, said it is important for residents and family members to report sexual abuse in nursing homes.
In addition to pressing criminal charges against the perpetrator, the victim may be entitled to recover money damages in an elder abuse lawsuit against the nursing home if it failed in its duty to protect residents, Louthian said.
“If an elder loved one has suffered sexual or other forms of abuse or neglect at a South Carolina nursing home, they or their family should talk to a qualified Columbia elder abuse attorney to find out their legal options,” Louthian said.