Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

The Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report stating that at least one in four instances of elder abuse or neglect are not reported. While horrific in scope, the results are not entirely surprising – other, smaller samples have found that 15 to 20 percent of elder abuse cases were not reported to the proper authorities or government agencies. The most recent study, released by the HHS Inspector General, based its findings on a large sampling of cases spanning 33 states. The study, which pegged the underreporting rate at exactly 28 percent, was released with a demand that Medicare take “corrective action right away.”

Despite mandatory reporting laws by both the federal government virtually all states, the rathelpe of under-reporting remains stubbornly high. On the federal level, nursing homes are required to report any incidents involving a suspected crime immediately and any other case of suspected elder abuse within 24 hours. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can fine nursing homes up to $300,000 for failing to comply with the law. While such a strict timeline and the possibility of hefty fines would typically discourage non-compliance, the HHS report shows that the law requiring reporting of any elder abuse – whether physical, financial, sexual or otherwise – is mostly unenforced by CMS.
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As part of President Trump’s promise to roll-back federal regulations, the Trump administration has announced its intention to scrap a federal rule prohibiting nursing homes from requiring their residents to pursue legal claims through arbitration.

In the simplest terms, arbitration is a catch-all term for a dispute-resolution that, while legally binding, does not utilize the court system. The practice has exploded in popularity in recent decades – especially among larger corporations and nursing homes. These entities prefer arbitration because the costs are generally lower, the dispute resolution process moves much faster than the courts, and parties generally do not have a right to appeal thus providing both parties some finality to their dispwalking-out-300x225ute. Opponents of arbitration say the extra-judicial process favors corporate interests and curtails the rights of victims – from limiting discovery to removing the opportunity to appeal. Further, arbitration also removes the right for a person to have their case heard before a jury, and instead substitutes a so-called “neutral arbitrator.”
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With toothless regulations and ineffective oversight, many nursing homes are still failing the neediest patients. With its budget for overseeing nursing homes slashed in half, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has failed to identify failing nursing homes and keep them accountable. As a consequence, some nursing homes are choosing to accept the infrequent fines instead of changing their behavior.

helpCMS is responsible for overseeing all nursing homes that receive benefits from these federal entitlement programs. CMS routinely inspects nursing homes for any violations, if a violation is found, then CMS has two options. First, CMS can put the facility on “special focus” status – reserved for the worst offenders. A nursing home with this designation would be routinely inspected more often and, supposedly, would be punished more severely for any violations. Unfortunately, federal budget cuts have blunted the amount of nursing homes that can be put under “special focus.” Since 2012, the budget for inspecting facilities with this designation has dropped by half. Consequently, despite regulators identifying 435 facilities that warranted this designation, only 88 nursing homes were actually put on the watchlist. Further, once a Continue reading

physical-abuse-300x169A Berkshires caretaker has been charged with elder abuse after an 84-year-old man told hospital staff that his two broken ribs were caused by being “thrown around like a rag doll.” The 52-year-old man, Anthony Marcella II, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on charges of assault and battery on a person over 60 or disabled, witness intimidation, caretaker abuse of an elder, and caretaker abuse of an elder causing serious bodily harm. Marcella has pleaded not-guilty to all charges and was released on a bail.

On May 22 or 23, Marcella was allegedly “rough” when picking up the elderly victim (whose name is not provided) after he fell down. According to court documents, Marcella squeezed him in an aggressive manner and proceeded to throw him around “like a rag doll.” The elderly victim suffered two broken ribs as a result of his caretaker’s abusive treatment. Continue reading

Jacky Stanley, a former rehabilitation worker at Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine, New York was convicted of sexually abusing six male residents at the facility – each of whom were in the facility after suffering traumatic brain injuries. All six male residents testified in court that Stanley molested them in some way – either by performing oral sex on them, or by “rubbing or trying to touch” their genitals. Despite the prosecution providing no physical evidence and no witnesses of the abuse (other than the victims), Stanley was convicted of almost all crimes the prosecution had brought against him. The trial lasted four days and jurors deliberated for roughly eight hours over two days.

The Northeast Center for Special Care “provides care and rehabilitation to individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries” – generally caused by stroke, motor vehicle accidents, falls, and other catastrophic event. Stanley was an employed as a “Neighborhood Counselor” – whose duties included managing residents’ social environment and ensuring that residents participated in their required programs.

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A former employee of Northeast Center for Special Care (NCSP) in Lake Katrine was convicted of sexually abusing six residents of the facility who were admitted for traumatic brain injuries.

NCSP is a facility that provides rehabilitation and care for those suffering traumatic brain injuries caused by stroke, motor vehicle accidents, falls and other dire events. Jacky Stanley was employed as a “Neighborhood Counselor”, responsible for assisting residents in getting accustomed to the facility. His responsibilities included managing residents social environment and ensuring residents participated in their required programs. Continue reading

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, has issued a rule that will prevent nursing homes receiving federal funding from requiring resident’s to sign admission agreements with arbitration clauses. An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract requiring parties to resolve issues through the arbitration process, therefore depriving the resident of his/her right to bring a lawsuit against the nursing home. These clauses have forced claims of sexual harassment, elder abuse and even instances of wrongful death from being handled in an open courcourthouset.

The fine print of arbitration clauses have also prevented disputes on resident safety and quality of care from being publicly known. This rule will provide new protections to 1.5 million nursing home residents. The agency’s new rule is the most significant overhaul of rules regarding federal funding for long term care facilities, restoring millions of Americans their right to pursue action in an open court.  The rule applies to pre-dispute matters, allowing the parties to a dispute the opportunity to seek arbitration after a dispute arises. Continue reading

Attorney General Eric T. Schniderman announced the arrest and arraignment of four former nursing aids in Oswego, NY on September 15, 2016. The aids were arrested for cases regarding nursing home abuse at two Oswego nursing homes. All four aids were charged with misdemeanors and felonies for taking “undignified” photographs and videos of residents at Pontiac Nursing Home and St. Luke Health Services; both facilities have strict policies forbidding cell phone use.  A.G. Schneiderman stated that residents of nursing homes and their families deserve peace of mind knowing their loved ones are being properly cared for and respected by their caregivers. He continued to say recording residents for amusement is a “blatant violation” of residents trust and privacy in a place they call home.

In one case, nursing aids Matthew Reynolds and Angel Rood, former employees of Pontiac, took demeaning photographs of a resident using an iPhone. A.G. Schneiderman said there were multiple pictures showed Reynolds and Rood lying in bed with the resident and touching them in a “taunting and abusive manner.” John Ognibene, Administrator at Pontic fired both aids immediately. Ognibene stated the staff at Pontiac is educated in patient rights during orientation as well as at their annual inservice training. Inservice training reviews the restriction using cell phones, social media and taking photographs of residents. Ognibene continued to say any violation of the policies or implementation of them is unacceptable. Continue reading

A study published June 14, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that at least one out of five seniors residing in a nursing home has experienced resident-on-resident abuse. Reports of resident-on-resident abuse were tracked over a period of one month in New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. Of the 2,0111 residents included in the study, more than 20% (407 residents) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances such as invasion of privacy and menacing gestures, physical abuse with incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

Several factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced, for example residents in a dementia unit with a greater nurse aide caseload reported higher rates of abuse. Dr. Mark Lachs, researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine stated most of the aggressive acts that occur in a nursing home are due to community living. Residents often suffer from dementia or other neurodegenerative illnesses and are being forced into communal living areas for the first time in decades, which are often triggers for people suffering from these illnesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or patients prone to violent behavior should look for nursing homes with rooms or units set aside to prevent triggering aggressive acts. She also suggested touring facilities to see if the space feels adequate or overcrowded. Continue reading

A study published June 14, 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that at least one out of five seniors residing in a nursing home has experienced resident-on-resident abuse. Reports of resident-on-resident abuse were tracked over a period of one month in 5 urban and 5 suburban New York nursing homes through interviews, observation and incident reports. There were 2,011 residents included in the study. 407 (more than 20%) said they experienced such abuse over that month. The research found verbal abuse was ranked highest followed by assorted instances, including invasion of privacy or menacing gestures, physical abuse and incidents of sexual abuse accounting for a small percentage.

fightSeveral factors had an impact on the amount of abuse experienced.  For example, residents in a dementia unit with a higher nurse aide caseload reported higher rates of abuse. Dr. Mark Lachs, researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine stated most of the aggressive acts that occur in a nursing home are due to community living situations. Residents often suffer from dementia or other neurodegenerative illnesses and are being forced into communal living areas for the first time in decades, which are often triggers for people suffering these sicknesses.  Dr. Janice Du Mont, a public health researcher at the University of Toronto suggested families of patients with dementia or are prone to violent behavior, should look for nursing homes with rooms or units set aside to prevent triggering aggressive acts. She also suggested touring facilities to see if there is adequate space or feels overcrowded. Continue reading

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