Crime & Public Safety

A Hilton Head nursing home patient was sexually assaulted by an employee, report says

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A nursing home patient on Hilton Head Island was sexually assaulted by an employee of the facility, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

Investigators arrived at the Life Care Center of Hilton Head around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday after a report of a sexual assault that happened overnight, according to the report.

A nurse said she went to a patient's room around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday and found her "upset and crying," the report said. When she asked what was wrong, the patient told the nurse she had been assaulted.

Further information provided by the nurse was unavailable because the Sheriff's Office report was heavily redacted.

Contacted Friday, the Life Care Center of Hilton Head declined to comment on the incident.

The nursing home reported the incident to the Sheriff's Office, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and other agencies as required by Life Care Center's policies, the report said.

Sheriff's Office spokesperson Capt. Bob Bromage said a suspect in the assault has been identified as a nursing home employee. According to the report, that person has been "placed on suspension."

A deputy interviewed the patient, but information from that interview also is redacted in the report.

Bromage said the Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

According to the Life Care Centers of America Code of Conduct, the agency does "not tolerate any type of abuse or neglect." Associates have a duty to protect residents from all forms of abuse, the policy says.

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, nearly 1 in 2 women & 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape in their lives.

Alex Kincaid: 843-706-8123, @alexkincaid22