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Sexual Predators Who Target Elders: Findings From the First National Study of Sexual Abuse in Care Facilities

NCJ Number
Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect Volume: 20 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 353-376
Holly Ramsey-Klawsnik Ph.D.; Pamela B. Teaster Ph.D.; Marta S. Mendiondo Ph.D.; Jennifer L. Marcum M.S.; Erin L. Abner M.P.H.
Date Published
24 pages
This study examined the characteristics of 119 alleged sex offenders who were reported to State authorities for abusing elderly individuals residing in care facilities.
Most of those accused of such offenses were facility employees, followed by other residents of the facility. Family members of the alleged victims and visitors to the facilities were also among the suspects. Investigations of the allegations by Adult Protective Services and regulatory staff resulted in 32 of the 119 suspects being confirmed as having committed the alleged sexual abuse. Most of the confirmed offenders were male (n=28, 87.5 percent). Twenty-four male offenders sexually assaulted women, and 4 assaulted men. Two female offenders sexually abused men, and one abused a woman. The majority of the offenders were age 60 and over (77 percent). Eighty-eight percent of the confirmed offenders were White. Residents of the facility accounted for 78 percent of the confirmed offenders. Disabilities of resident perpetrators were cognitive (n=10), physical (n=7), and psychiatric (n=8). Three were substance abusers; one had a criminal history; and one had been previously accused of a sexual offense. Twenty of the victims had been molested. Other sexual abuse included inappropriate interest in the victim's body (n=12) and sexualized kissing (n=4). Two were exposed to exhibitionism; two had their breasts or buttocks exposed to others; two were subjected to sexualized jokes and comments; two were sexually exploited; and two were forced to view pornography. One victim was anally raped, one vaginally raped, and one experienced attempted vaginal rape. One victim was subjected to harmful genital practices, and one victim suffered sadistic sexual behavior. None of the identified and confirmed perpetrators were arrested. This indicates the need for increased criminal justice involvement in elder abuse cases that occur in facilities. 5 tables and 27 references