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Court Rules Nursing Home Sex Offender Ban Unconstitutional

A recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned a law that once barred Level 3 sex offenders – those deemed most likely to re-offend – from living in nursing homes.

Prior to the ruling, nursing home officials had routinely relied on the law to deny admittance to dangerous sex offenders. Although the court had ruled previously that the state constitution permits the denial of certain rights to Level 3 offenders, it found that the nursing home restriction went too far in curtailing the protections set forth in the state’s Declaration of Rights.

While the decision will undoubtedly increase the availability of long-term residential care for aging sex offenders, elder rights advocates have raised concerns that it may put vulnerable nursing home residents at an increased risk of sexual abuse.

Studies have shown that some type of elder abuse takes place in more than 30 percent of the nation’s nursing homes. Although less commonly reported than other forms of elder abuse, sexual abuse of nursing home residents is a very real problem. Unfortunately, many cases of elder sexual abuse go unreported because the victim is embarrassed, afraid or unable to speak up about what has happened.

If a nursing home resident is abused as a result of negligence on the part of the facility’s staff, the victim may be able to recover financial compensation for his or her injuries. For instance, a nursing home can be held liable for damages if it failed to adequately screen its residents or staff, or if it neglected to properly train its employees in recognizing and responding to signs of abuse. In addition, an abuse victim may be able to recover damages directly from the abuser.

If someone you love has suffered abuse while living in a nursing home, there is help available. Contact an experienced personal injury as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and legal options.

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