The Buffalo News reported the disturbing tale of Thomas Moore who spent more than 20 years in prison for sexually abusing hospitalized women who were elderly, disabled or incapacitated. But when time came to release him last year, he was accepted at Waterfront Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Buffalo – where he lived surrounded by elderly, disabled and incapacitated women. State law required Waterfront to be notified of Moore’s status as a level 3 “sexually violent and predicate sex offender” when he was released to its care, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Services.
Barely a month after he moved into Waterfront, Moore was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a fellow resident in her bed. Authorities accused Moore of entering the room of another Waterfront resident at about midnight on Jan. 3, pulling off her blanket and molesting her. Police arrested Moore nine days later, charging him with sexual abuse of a person incapable of giving consent and with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.
“It was like throwing the fox in the hen house,” said Dr. Charles P. Ewing of the University at Buffalo, an attorney and forensic psychologist who has studied sex offenders and the law. Ewing said that any facility responsible for the safety of others, whether they are young, elderly or infirm, has a higher level of obligation to stay informed if it agrees to hire or house someone on the sex offender registry.
The police report’s description of the January assault are similar to Moore’s first two convictions for sex crimes. In both cases, he assaulted women who were disabled or incapacitated.
Moore’s first sex offense conviction came in July 1996. Moore targeted a 79-year-old woman – a patient in a Manhattan hospital. Convicted of the sexual abuse of a person who was physically helpless, he spent four years in prison and was released in 2000.
By August 2001, Moore assaulted two female patients at Beth Israel Medical Center. First he pulled the sheet off a 58-year-old woman who had come out of surgery. Then a nurse spotted him on a bed with a semi-conscious 93-year-old woman.
Federal regulations require nursing homes to make every effort to protect their residents from abuse. Those rules “not only specify that these facilities may only admit residents they can appropriately care for, but they must also identify residents whose personal histories put them at risk for abusing other residents,” according to the state Department of Health.
“Staff must work diligently to prevent such occurrences by monitoring behavior of these residents and regularly reviewing their internal strategies for the prevention of abuse,” according to its statement to The News.
A 2015 study led by Cornell researchers found that more than 20 percent of nursing home residents are victims of some type of resident-on-resident abuse in the course of any given month, with the abuse ranging from cursing and threats, theft of personal items, inappropriate touching or hitting, all the way up to homicide.