As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I was interested to see a story about an unsubstantiated claim of sexual abuse in a Pennsylvania nursing home. The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre reported Jan. 12 on an investigation into a claim by a 91-year-old woman that she was sexually assaulted by two other women. According to the article, investigations by the city police department and the home itself could not substantiate the patient's claim. The police said they are still investigating but don't expect charges to be filed.
The accuser, who was not named, lives at Riverstreet Manor in Wilkes-Barre. According to the article, she accused two women of sexually assaulting her several weeks ago. No more details were reported. A spokesperson for the home said the home has a zero tolerance policy for abuse and undertook its own investigation, as well as contacting the local police and the health department. They were unable to turn up any evidence that the assault took place, the spokesperson said. The home has also been in contact with the accuser's family, who the spokesperson said were pleased with the way the home handled its investigation.
As a Pennsylvania nursing home lawyer, I hope these investigations came to the right. Sexual abuse is a grave accusation at a nursing home and has resulted in high-profile criminal prosecutions in other states. It's possible that the woman's accusations couldn't be substantiated because they sprang from a mental problem such as dementia. Unfortunately, people who truly are abusing nursing home patients often rely on patients' physical or mental illnesses to keep them silent, or dispute their claims if they speak up. That's why it's important for nursing homes to take all allegations of Pennsylvania nursing home abuse seriously, even when they come from unreliable people.