PITTSBURGH — While some states have passed laws requiring nursing homes to notify patients and families when a registered sex offender moves in, a Target 11 investigation revealed that no such law exists in Pennsylvania.
Staff at the nursing homes may not even know because the state only notifies them when a sexually violent predator moves in.
Target 11's Rick Earle took the addresses of nursing homes and cross referenced them to the addresses of registered sex offenders on the Megan’s Law website in order to find which local nursing homes have sex offenders as residents.
Norman Carl Nelson, who was convicted of rape in 1989, is one local sex offender who lists his address as a nursing home in Wilkinsburg.
Stacie Coates, who worked at the nursing home for several months, said she didn’t know Nelson was a registered sex offender.
“I had heard there was few in there. (But) I didn't know for sure,” she told Earle.
While it doesn’t bother her to learn that she was working around a sex offender, Coates said she would think twice about putting a loved one in the home.
“Well, now that I know that, I probably wouldn't,” she said. “I wouldn't do that.”
Others Earle found on the Megan’s Law website living at local nursing homes included Walter William Boyd on Pittsburgh’s North Side, John Thomas Spencer in Monroeville, Peary Lee Weikel in Beaver and John Robert Randall in Cranberry Township.
“They talk about it being the only crime they don't age out of. Also I'm assuming if someone's in a nursing home, they're health is compromised. So I guess it would be interesting to see how mobile they are, how ambulatory they are,” Alison Hall, with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, said.
A study by “A Perfect Cause,” a nursing home advocacy group, in 2005 found that there were 1,600 registered sex offenders in long-term care facilities across the country, and they documented more than 60 crimes, including rapes and assaults.
Target 11 reached out to all of the local nursing home where sex offenders were found to be living but only heard back from the North Side location, which issued the following statement:
“We do not feel that any patients, staff or visitors are currently at risk. If the possible issue of a sexual predator residing in the facility occurred, we would communicate the information to our families and residents while protecting patient privacy.”Target 11 spoke with Pittsburgh attorney Rob Peirce, who handles elderly and nursing home abuse cases, about what advice he’d offer to those looking to place a loved one in a nursing home.
“It's simple for someone to go and look at the facility. Is it clean? Is it dirty? But you can't just put a loved one in a convenient location,” he said. “You must look into the background of that facility as best you can, the employees and who may be staying there.”
As for the reliance of the self-reporting Megan’s Law website, law enforcement officials told Earle that they do random compliance checks.
Last year alone, officers checked more than 2,000 addresses across Pennsylvania and found only 40 offenders who were not in compliance. Police said the non-compliance rate stands at less than 2 percent. ..Source.. by WPIX.com