The Chicago Tribune ran a story yesterday on a tragic problem plaguing many of the city’s most prominent mental health facilities. The newspaper has identified 18 cases of reported rape and sexual assault at these facilities in the last two years alone, and this is after state officials had vowed to curb the problem.
This story should serve as a reminder of the various ways in which patients remain vulnerable when seeking medical care. The victims were all under 18 years old (the youngest was 7) and each was a ward of the state. What makes the situation more tragic is that all but four had suffered horrific abuse in their past. It is heartbreaking to consider that their trauma has continued even after intervention of state officials who were suppose to protect them.
Inefficient oversight from the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services is part of the problem. Other factors include weak laws that provide little protection to the vulnerable patients as well as inadequate funding to properly investigate reported instances of abusive conduct.
Not one of the alleged perpetrators of the abuse has been arrested or prosecuted, nor have any disciplinary actions been taken against the facilities which allowed the conduct. Amazingly, in some of the cases of molestation, the sexual actions were labeled “consensual” even though some of the victims were as young as 12 years old.
As one public guardian remarked, “The fact that they are even able to have what some term as ‘consensual sex’ is just abhorrent, because it says the systems failed to keep kids safe and make them better.”
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti remain disgusted by any abuse that occurs at hospitals where patients-both young and old-seek care for their ailments. More must be done to protect these innocent victims and ensure that future medical abuse is eliminated.
Please Click Here to learn more about the problem of sexual abuse in Chicago hospitals.