Delaware Online has a story about allegations of rape committed by one patient against another at the Delaware Psychiatric Center's (DPC) Mitchell Building which houses the criminally insane and is the most secure unit of the center.
Police opened the rape investigation after the victim attempted to hang herself with strips of a bedsheet fashioned into a noose -- a suicide attempt stopped by hospital employees who heard the woman's roommate screaming, the victim told her father.
The woman told a counselor she tried to kill herself because she'd been raped, said the hospital employee.
The man she accused of raping her has a history of violence in Mitchell.
Last year, he punched a nurse in the face, breaking the orbital bones around the man's eye, according to current and former hospital employees. The nurse has not returned to work, even after eight months of medical leave and two surgeries.
This woman was in the hospital to be helped and failing to have systems to protect patients from other patients who are known to be violent is no help at all.
The story says that this man and woman had a prior consensual sexual relationship, but with the problems at the hospital and this woman's vulnerability I'm not sure that's true. The prior contacts may have simply lacked overt physical violence. If it was a consent or else situation then there could be no meaningful consent.
It appears that this isn't an isolated report.
Patient safety is one focus of the investigation of DPC by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, which targeted the facility late last year after a series of News Journal stories uncovered a rising number of sexual attacks and assaults at the New Castle-area hospital, and retaliation against nurses for reporting such abuses.
This is not encouraging. We must do better for the most vulnerable.