The Arizona Republic investigates hundreds of sexual assault cases in senior living facilities
Dec. 5, 2023
Last year, The Arizona Republic requested three years’ worth of police reports from senior living facilities across Arizona, asking for calls stemming from assaults, domestic violence, fights, sex offenses and abuse. The Republic built a database documenting those incidents, read hundreds of reports, analyzed citation and nursing home data, listened to forensic interviews and spoke to survivors, their family members, caregivers, regulators, police, facility managers and industry experts. What emerged was a clear picture of fractured oversight among state agencies tasked with protecting vulnerable adults in care facilities.
Sahana Jayaraman, investigative data reporter at The Arizona Republic, joined Arizona Horizon to speak on what was found.
What sparked this investigation?
The motivation behind this series began when one of Jayaraman’s colleagues found out a woman had been killed in an assisted senior living facility by another resident with hangers.
“The sexual abuse and assault story came about after we had collected all of these reports, and we were reading them and putting them into this database,” Jayaraman said.
A noticeable pattern began to emerge with many residents accusing caregivers or other residents of sexual assault. Some of the cases were appalling and required further investigation, according to Jayaraman.
Does law enforcement take these cases seriously?
Law enforcement was investigating these incidents, which is how The Republic heard of them, but oftentimes, cases of a resident abusing another resident becomes inactivated or closed for a variety of different reasons.
“I think facilities have hindered police investigation into some of the incidents that have happened by refusing to give police information when they ask for it or sort of slowing the process with the flow of information to police and to state investigators,” Jayaraman said.