Nobody wants to think that a registered sex offender could be living in your Virginia nursing home or assisted living facility. Surely you would know if there were a sex offender nearby, wouldn't you? Especially if the offender is labeled as violent and is living in the next room? Unfortunately this isn't always the case, although a new Virginia law aims to better inform long-term care facility residents about such a risk. Whether or not this law adequately protects residents of these facilities is another matter.
The new Virginia law came about after State Senator Ken Stolle of Virginia Beach chaired a commission to find out if sex offenders in Virginia nursing homes were a cause for alarm. Senator Stolle's commission did not find any disturbing or inappropriate incidents in Virginia, although there are documented cases in other states where registered sex offenders have perpetrated violent acts on fellow residents.
In fact, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified 700 registered sex offenders who are living in long-term care facilities across the United States. Senator Stolle and others became worried when stories emerged about disturbing cases where nursing home residents were raped by registered sex offenders living in the same facility.
Despite not finding any problems in Virginia, a state law was passed that requires long-term care facilities to register so they can receive information on sex offenders living in or near their facility. They must also help their residents access the sex offender registry - but only if a resident requests the information. Facilities are not required to disclose the information unless asked. Critics claim this new law does not go far enough to protect residents who could unknowingly be at the mercy of a known predator.
Advocates for the elderly and the AARP believe that the law should require facilities to notify patients and families if a registered sex offender is living in the facility. It shouldn't be up to the patient and their family, they argue, to first ask if such a person is living there. Some advocates for the elderly even call for criminal background checks for all nursing home and assisted living patients.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, then consider a personal injury attorney who will fight for your rights while you and your family recover. The attorneys at Weisberg & Zaleski, P.C. have over 30 years of experience defending men and women in Virginia who have been the victims of abuse and neglect, and pledge to do everything in their power to ensure that you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.