Baltimore, MD- Too often nursing home residents who are abused by their care givers get little justice, and the offender gets away with hitting, slapping or otherwise abusing those individuals. Sometimes justice is served and abusers as appropriately punished, such is the case of a Maryland man will spend the next year on probation for hitting an 84 year-old man living in facility where he worked.

This week, a Maryland judge sentenced Raphael N. Asinyang, 43, of Randallstown to one year in jail after he pleaded guilty to second-degree abuse of a vulnerable adult, Attorney General Douglas S. Gansler announced Thursday, October 31st.

“Caregivers who abuse the residents they are supposed to protect and watch over violate the public’s trust in them,” said Gansler. “We’re thankful that an eyewitness reported this incident, leading to a conviction that will prevent the defendant from mistreating any more vulnerable adults.”

According to the Baltimore News Journal, Judge Kathleen Cox sentenced Asinyang to one year in jail which was suspended. She also sentenced him to one year supervised probation and prohibited him from ever being employed by a long term care facility.

Asinyang’s conviction stems from an incident, which took place in November of 2012 at the Chapel Hill Nursing Center in Randallstown. The Baltimore News Journal reported that the mother of another resident walked by the room of the 84 year-old man when she saw Asinyang hit the man in the head.

The woman confronted him about the incident and then reported it to administrators at the facility who then contacted police, the Medicare Fraud Control Unit and the Attorney General’s office.

Asinyang was only caught because someone witnessed the abuse. There are many instances or nursing home abuses that go undetected because no one sees it or the abused individual is unable to report it.

While it is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure or abuse and neglect in nursing homes, recent major studies indicate that 1 in 10 seniors are abused by their caregivers, which can included family members, nursing home staff and home health care professionals. That is an distressing statistic, but it is important that people are aware of the prevalence of the problem and speak up if they witness it or suspect their loved one or someone else’s is being physically, emotionally, financially or emotionally abused.

In another survey, fifty percent of healthcare professionals admitted to abusing or neglecting a patient in their care within the past month.

The suspended sentence is somewhat disappointing considering the prevalence of abuse in nursing homes. Requiring Asinyang serve the time would send a clear signal to other abusers that the behavior will not be tolerated. Unless people face severe consequences, abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable will persist.

Victim lawsuits filed with the assistance of a nursing home abuse attorney is one way to discourage neglect and abuse. The more people that use this route may help abusers realize their actions have consequences and they will pay for hurting an elderly individual.