The family of a 69-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit against a suburban nursing home for failing to protect her from being sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old mentally ill resident. It’s alleged that Maplewood Care’s administrator tried to cover up a brutal rape by calling it consensual sex. This is an example of how mixing frail elderly residents and younger mentally ill residents in nursing homes can lead to violence if facilities do not monitor potentially dangerous residents.
Lincolnwood-based S.I.R. Management operates their nursing home and seven other Chicago-area facilities. It was reported that Christopher Shelton, 21, was missing at bed check, but “no search was made or alarm sounded to alert residents and staff that a young, aggressive, sexually frustrated, convicted felon was prowling the halls of the nursing home,” according to the lawsuit. Later, a night shift nurse heard an elderly woman moaning and entered her room, a state investigation revealed. The nurse found the alleged victim crying and Shelton in her bathroom where he was calling 911 to report “someone attacking the woman.” Paramedics and an emergency room doctor later examined the woman and noted signs of sexual trauma, according to the state investigator’s report.
Shelton had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with aggression when he was admitted to the nursing home in November. The state report showed he had told the nursing home staff in December that he was sexually frustrated, but the facility failed to monitor him more closely after that notice. The state and federal governments fined the nursing home $44,400 for violations related to the incident. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of a resident identified only as Jane Doe to protect her privacy. The named Defendants are Maplewood Care, S.I.R. Management and the facility’s former administrator.
According to the lawsuit, the administrator downplayed the incident as consensual sex in a report to the state and encouraged employees to lie about it to cover it up. Shelton, who was arrested at the nursing home, has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts including aggravated sexual assault in connection with the incident. The lawsuit alleges that the woman’s family was not told the nursing home had admitted young adult residents “with a history of violent and aggressive criminal behaviors.” Shelton, a convicted felon and a former resident of the Elgin facility, was readmitted to the home without a proper review of his criminal history. If the home had checked, it would have discovered Shelton had an outstanding arrest warrant on felony battery charges.
Nursing homes have become dumping grounds for young and middle-aged people with mental illness, according to an Associated Press analysis earlier this year. In its analysis, Associated Press said Illinois ranked highest among the states in the number of mentally ill adults under age 65 living in nursing homes — more than 12,000 last year.
Source: Associated Press
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