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Shocking charges of sexual abuse against nursing home employee

A 39-year-old employee of the Crestwood Health Care Center in St. Louis County has been accused of sexually assaulting three residents. He has been charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, illegal deviate sexual intercourse regarding one resident and sexual conduct with at least one other resident.

The allegations are disturbing. In one case, a 71-year-old resident alleged that the worker had grabbed her bare bottom as she exited the shower. She said this was "surprising and shocking and unwanted."

According to a St. Louis County police investigation, two female residents in their late 20s performed sex acts on the man while he was supposed to be working. These three crimes occurred between December 2016 and January 2017.

Also upsetting is the apparent lack of response by the nursing home. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a person answering the phone at the facility simply stated she had no idea what the reporter was talking about and hung up. Calls to the facility's parent company went unreturned.

The parent company, Reliant Care Management, apparently operates some two dozen nursing homes in Missouri. The company is no stranger to litigation.

The Post-Dispatch notes that Reliant's holding company settled federal Medicare fraud claims last summer for $8.3 million. The company was accused of providing unnecessary and sometimes inappropriate treatment to nursing home residents and then billing Medicare for the services.

As part of the settlement, the holding company undertook a five-year "corporate integrity agreement" with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General. It is unclear if preventing assaults on residents was specifically a part of the corporate integrity agreement.

These allegations are quite fresh, and not all of the facts are in. In many cases of nursing home abuse, however, the incidents occur due to inadequate staffing. When workers feel confident they won't be caught, they may engage in illegal activities.

Allegations of sexual contact between nursing home staff and residents need to be taken extremely seriously. Even seemingly "consensual" sexual contact is illegal and a violation of medical ethics. It should not be tolerated any more than a clearly non-consensual act.

If you or a loved one has experienced a physical or sexual assault in a nursing home or care facility, we urge you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for an evaluation of your case. You deserve to protect your rights and hold bad actors accountable for nursing home abuse.

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