Many Californians have loved ones in psychiatric care. Sadly, there has been a rise in sexual assaults in psychiatric hospitals.
Psychiatric patients may be incapable of consent
If a psychiatric patient is sexually assaulted, they might be incapable of consenting even if they act as a willing participant. Depending on the abuser’s identity and the victim’s mental disorder, any sexual contact could be considered rape or some other sex offense. For example, staff members in a psychiatric hospital cannot engage in sexual activity with a patient regardless of the patient’s medical condition.
How widespread is sexual assault in psychiatric hospitals?
Sexual assault on psychiatric patients has long been considered a taboo topic and was not discussed in literature until 1976.
Since the mid-2000s, surveys have been conducted on the problem of sexual assault in psychiatric hospitals. In 2005, it was discovered that 8% of patients reported being assaulted by a fellow patient. Another 3% stated that staff members sexually assaulted them. A 2012 survey found that 7% of psychiatric patients were victims of sexual assault or other sexually-based crimes.
Sometimes, when the perpetrator is a staff member, it’s the fault of the psychiatric hospital for failing to properly investigate the person’s background. In one case, the jury decided that the hospital was partially responsible for sex abuse committed by a staff member against two former patients. The hospital was found negligent in not investigating the man’s background. The man was a known sex abuser. Additionally, the hospital’s CEO knew about sexual misconduct occurring between the staff member and a patient but waited for a year to report it.
If you have a loved one in a psychiatric hospital who has suffered sexual assault, you have the right to file a lawsuit on their behalf.