You may recall a recent case out of Memphis in which a man was arrested and convicted for raping and abusing a 78-year-old woman. While the case horrified and disgusted most people who heard about it, it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

According to the Boston College Connell School of Nursing, which published a lengthy report on the subject of sexual assault of elderly men and women, surveys from 2000 revealed that 3,370 of 261,000 rapes and sexual assaults were victims’ age 65 or older. However, they also cite a serious problem with under-reporting: only an estimated 30% of incidents are reported to police.

This abuse may go unreported for a number of reasons, including:


    • mental disability: victims with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment are less likely to understand what has been done to them or be able to report it accurately after the fact.
    • physical disability: sensory impairments like blindness that increase in severity with age can make it hard to describe perpetrators.
    • lack of physical evidence: bruises and other signs of the attack can easily be confused for injuries that come with aging.


The Boston College study found 43% of victims live alone at home and 38% of victims live in nursing homes, and the experience of these two groups can vary great.

Elderly persons living at home usually have stronger physical, mental, and emotional capacities and are often younger than people living in nursing homes. They have more of their faculties and stronger community resources. For those reasons, the odds that perpetrators will be reported, tracked down, and eventually brought to justice increase exponentially for people living on their own.

Nursing home residents are typically older than people who live at home and are more likely than non-nursing home residents to be physically and mentally disabled. They are more likely to know the person who commits the assault than non-nursing home residents. For these reasons, more cases of sexual assault in nursing homes go unreported.

If you or someone you care about has suffered assault, rape, molestation, or any other form of abuse while in another person’s care, you may be entitled to compensation, and our Memphis nursing home and elder abuse lawyers can help.

Contact us today or call 901-327-1212 to discuss your case with an attorney. The conversation is free.