Senate Judiciary Chair adds pressure over handling of nursing homes' social media abuses

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"Simply acknowledging" the social media abuses is not enough, Grassley wrote
"Simply acknowledging" the social media abuses is not enough, Grassley wrote

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) has joined two other senators in calling on the federal government to step up its efforts regarding social media exploitation of nursing home residents.

In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Grassley asked what steps the Department of Justice has taken to combat the growing issue of long-term care workers who take photos or videos of residents and then post them on social media. Grassley also asked how the DOJ has worked to prosecute those found guilty of exploiting residents on social media, as well as the number of resolved and ongoing cases being handled by the department.

“What is clear is that the federal government must use all the tools at its disposal to protect the elderly in this country,” Grassley wrote. “Simply acknowledging [elder abuse], however, is not enough.”

In his letter Grassley cited the case of Illinois eldercare worker Channing Butler, who was arrested in January on allegations that he solicited men to sexually assault residents while he filmed them.

“As technology and social media expand, we owe it to our nation's elderly population to ensure quality nursing home care, which debasement of patients does not fulfill,” he wrote.

Grassley's letter follows a letter sent by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) last week, questioning how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights has been handling social media-related nursing home abuse cases. In December, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) requested an investigation into the issue by the Senate Aging Committee.