Back in March of 2011 your Charleston, SC lawyers at Howell Law posted a blog entry concerning a sexual assault on an elderly woman living in a Mt. Pleasant hospice. A week ago last Thursday the 56-year-old alleged attacker was convicted of raping the elderly woman, found guilty (but mentally ill) of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to a Local News Report, the solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit actively sought the maximum imposed sentence upon the defendant, but disclosed that a 30-year prison sentence for the 56-year-old man is likely to serve as a life sentence.
The attack occurred in the early morning hours of February 12, 2011, when the then 54-year-old man entered an unlocked door at a Mt. Pleasant hospice, walked across the corridor to the victim’s room, and proceeded to sexually assault the then 86-year-old patient. It was not until a nurse reportedly heard a scream that the attacked was discovered in the facility atop the hospice resident. Reportedly, in a statement given to authorities, the man imparted that he peered into one of the facility’s windows before finding an entrance.
According to authorities, the convicted attacker was a homeless man with an extensive criminal history; including an 1982 arrested on charges of committing a lewd and lascivious act, and an 1987 arrest for buggery, which is a term adopted from British English and close in meaning to sodomy. As a criminal charge in South Carolina, it is classified under “Offenses Against Morality and Decency.”
In connection with the instant case, the convicted attacker was also charged with trespassing, criminal domestic violence, petty larceny, possession of cocaine and meth, and public disorderly conduct. As mentioned, the man was determined to be mentally ill, but the presiding judge ruled him competent to stand trial after hearing from two psychiatrists. Mental competency may have become an issue once the attacker decided to waive his right to a jury trial, and, generally, the first question asked by the presiding court is, “Was the waiver given voluntarily?”
As noted in the previous blog post regarding this incident, the family of the now deceased victim has filed a civil suit against the hospice in which the sexual took place. The negligence lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Charleston about a month after the attack, and claims the Mt. Pleasant hospice failed to provide “reasonable and necessary security and protection.” The lawsuit is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages. For some general information regarding the difference between actual and punitive damages, please click HERE to read a previous blog entry by your Charleston accident lawyers.
Your Charleston personal injury attorney fully understands that the residents, and the families of residents, in hospice care facilities are dependent on the caregivers and expect to be provided with quality care. Also, residents and family members alike expect the premises of such facilities to be safe and secure from, among other things, highly suspect intruders. Failure of such a facility to care for residents’ well being in a manner consistent with standards applicable to that particular setting may have a devastating outcome, as the above case indicates, and may result in serious injury, pain and suffering, or even wrongful death.
Source: Live 5 News, “Judge imposes 30-year sentence of man who raped hospice patient” June 28, 2012