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Rape in a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly - What security measures could and should the facility have had in place to


On Dec. 16, 2007, a 92 year old woman, who suffers from dementia, was asleep in her bed at a residential care facility for the elderly, when she was awakened by a cook at the facility who was on top of her. Despite the woman's struggles, the man continued to attempt to rape her until he was caught by a caregiver who came to the woman's room to return something that belonged to her.

The man pleaded guilty to attempted rape and was sentenced to eight years and four months in state prison. He also is now a registered sex offender.

Plaintiff's counsel claimed that the employee attacked the resident after consuming liquor on the job and was able to enter her room with the master key that provided all employees of the facility access to every resident's room. This unfettered access was provided despite the fact that the manager who conducted the man's employment interview knew that the man provided false credentials to get his job, counsel contended. Even after the attack was reported, the employee stayed at the facility on the same floor as the elderly woman for half an hour, plaintiff's counsel claimed. No one confronted him, attempted to detain him or did anything to protect the other residents, counsel argued. Counsel claimed that after the man's arrest, law enforcement was provided with his employment file, which was missing critical documentation required under provisions of the law that governs the operation of residential care facilities for the elderly.

The woman sought general and punitive damages. She did not require medical care following the incident.

Defense counsel stated that plaintiff's counsel was seeking damages for past and future non-economic damages for pain and suffering and asked the jury to award $18 million. Plaintiff's counsel also sought punitive damages in the amount of $200 million, according to defense counsel.

Verdict: The jury found for the Plaintiff and awarded her $12.5 million in damages.

Michael Panish was the designated retained premises security expert for Plaintiff on this case. Mr. Panish's was retained to evaluate the safety and security precautions for this facility. What security measures could and should the facility have had in place to protect their patient's safety? His courtroom testimony was derived from his expertise as a lock and security equipment contractor and pertained to surveillance systems (both covert and overt), lock and security tiered keying systems (creating restricted access between the work force and upper management), and commented in trial about the overall insufficiencies that existed with regard to protecting the safety of the residents and work staff. He is currently retained onseveral active cases where rape, molestation, assault and abuse have occurred. Mr. Panish has been retained by both the plaintiff and defense on these types of cases frequently. Michael Panish has been the premises security expert of choice (Plaintiff and Defense) for many such related abuse, assault, and rape cases. He has been retained in cases that have involved molestation during transport to and from day care facilities, in-home abuses, and has been retained to identify alleged problems with premises security relating to criminal break-ins and assault cases. Mr. Panish has over 35 years of extensive hands-on experience with doors, locks, and security equipment and has worked as a contractor throughout the California Court and Jail Systems providing and installing appropriate security solutions.