Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused in nursing homes, CNN reports. The network found that more than 1,000 nursing homes have been cited for mishandling suspected cases of sex abuse. It’s impossible to know how many victims there are. In many cases, nursing homes and the government officials who oversee them are doing little or nothing about the problem. In some cases, willful negligence is at work. In other instances, nursing home employees and administrators are hamstrung in their efforts to protect victims who can’t remember exactly what happened to them or even identify their perpetrators.
In cases reviewed by CNN, nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. Because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver. CNN concludes that “systemic failures … make it especially hard for victims to get justice — and even easier for perpetrators to get away with their crimes.”