Nurses say elderly woman was raped

March 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is suspicion that an 87-year old woman with dementia may have been sexually assaulted at her nursing home in Tracy.

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The 87-year-old woman is being treated for pneumonia at Tracy Community Hospital, where she is listed in serious condition. She was transported on Monday from the Emeritus at Heritage Place Senior Home, after she had trouble breathing.

Shelley Whalen is the woman's daughter. She asked ABC7 not to use her mother's name.

Whalen says nurses found evidence during the examination that she may have been molested at the home.

"When they admitted her to the room, they took some vivid pictures and it was quite evident something happened," said Whalen.

"She was sexually assaulted?" asked ABC7's Vic Lee.

"Yes. She was sexually assaulted somehow," said Whalen.

Whalen says her mother suffers from dementia and doesn't remember what happened but does comprehend what's said during a conversation.

"They asked my mother if she wanted to have a rape kit test and she said yes," said Whalen. "I believe she knew what that meant -- that something needed to be checked."

Whalen's mother has lived at the long-term care facility for four years. The Department of Social Services told ABC7 the home has had "substantial compliance."

There are no previous incidents of assaults reported, but since 2006 when it was licensed, eight complaints were filed.

And the facility was slapped with seven citations. Among those violations was not responding to residents' calls in a timely manner and not meeting the needs of a resident with dementia.

Tracy Flaherty, a spokesperson for Emeritus Senior Living, said they're cooperating with police.

"As a company, we're taking this very seriously and we're investigating all the allegations," said Flaherty.

Investigators have been unable to interview the woman because of her condition.

Police hope the woman can be transferred soon to San Joaquin County hospital, where doctors can administer the forensic DNA test.

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