In the continual fight against nursing home abuse, Pennsylvania legislators recently passed a new bill – which was then signed by Governor Tom Wolf – to increase penalties against caregivers who sexually assault elders and people who are care-dependent. The legal update will allow the same charges filed against people who sexually abuse students, inmates, and children in institutional settings to be filed against caregivers who sexually abuse their wards. Furthermore, the definition of sexual abuse in this context can apply to indecent contact.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put nursing home care and its faults into a fresh, closer perspective. According to numerous state representatives from Pennsylvania, the incidents of nursing home abuse in all its forms, including sexual abuse, increased at the height of the pandemic. In response to this terrible issue, this legal update began to form.
Attorney Rob Peirce of Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. was interviewed by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for his insight into this sensitive legal matter. He pointed out that the elderly population is often overlooked because many elders live in homes that keep them separated from their families. With COVID procedures making it more difficult than ever to visit elders in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the risk of being overlooked only increased further.
He also shared that legislation and criminal charges often forget to make inclusions for people who commit crimes against the elderly. As a result, there was a large gap in Pennsylvania’s abuse crime laws and the situations suffered by care-dependent people. But the new law acts to patch that gap and make nursing homes and care facilities safer places by harshly penalizing anyone who commits indecent acts against vulnerable residents.
If convicted of the third-degree felony, the offender can face up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. A convicted sex offender under this law must also register with statewide sex offender registries, which can limit where they can live and impact the occupations they can take.
For more information about this legal update, you can click here to read the full news article that features Attorney Peirce. If you need help with a nursing home abuse case in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, then please use an online contact form provided by Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. today.