A Motion Picture Industry Retirement Home Has Been Accused of Covering Up Sexual Assault and Elder Abuse

Image via AP.
Image via AP.

The Motion Picture and Television Fund is a retirement community for people who have lived and worked in the film industry in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. The retirement home is currently being sued for allegedly covering up the sexual assaults of over a dozen female residents by another resident with Alzheimer’s.


Deadline reports that the MPTF is accused of hiding the “history of aggressive behavior and ‘sexual disinhibition’” of a man named Rafael Palacios, who has allegedly assaulted 13 women at the facility. A suit was filed on December 15 by retired costumer Nancy Renard, who says her family was left in the dark about the potential danger Palacios posed to her:

Renard’s suit alleges that Palacios, a former longtime employee of the Motion Picture & Television Fund before he became a resident at the retirement home, was found on top of Renard “in her bed with his pants down sexually assaulting her” and that managers failed to tell her family that he “had previously been found on top of another female resident in her room with his penis exposed.”

Renard’s suit also claims Palacios had exposed himself to do different staff members on separate occasions and had managed to invade nine other female resident’s room within a four month period that same year. An internal document called the “nursing weekly summary” noted Palacios had “68 episodes of aggressive behavior and 33 episodes of ‘sexual disinhibition.’”

MPTF is known for its Alzheimer’s unit, which is called Harry’s Haven. Renard’s suit says that Palacios actions are a result of his illness, claiming that his dementia has become so severe he has no control over his behavior. The suit alleges that the blame rests on MPTF, who were negligent in their care for him and “negligently hired, supervised, and retained” staff responsible for Alzheimer’s patients.

Renard’s suit follows a second case filed in August by another resident, Sylvia Mathes. Mathes claims she was assaulted by Palacios in July, and the residence did not take adequate measures to protect her from such an assault, though police had been called to the facility about Palacios multiple times:

Her suit states that in April, Palacios “was found on top of a female resident and the police were called” and that they were called again in May when he “was found on top of another female resident.” The suit alleges he was found on top of another female resident on June 16 and that, a few days later, he was “found on top of another female resident ‘humping.’ ”


One of the key witnesses in Mathes’s case was a long-time staffer named Diane Shaw, who had been charged with giving Palacios “1 on 1 supervision at all times,” but says she was generally responsible for every patient in Harry’s Haven, making such a task an impossibility.

Deadline reports that Shaw was expected at a deposition for Mathes’s suit, but a new complaint states the facility risk manager Joe Rich called her as she was on her way to court and told her she wasn’t needed. Then, an attorney for MPTF claimed Shaw was sick with pneumonia. Rich and the unnamed attorney are now accused of “fraudulent concealment,” ramping up the allegations that MPTF has been concealing assault and elder abuse at their facilities.


In a statement, the MPTF said it “takes all allegations and reported occurrences of sexual assault and harassment seriously.” They claim they investigate all complaints and take “corrective action” in all occurrences, adding, “We look forward to telling our side of the story and defending these cases in court in February and May of next year.”

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin



People would be horrified to know the things that go on in direct care facilities. Even I (a man) have been sexually assaulted by a patient with dementia. It’s incredibly commonplace, and you’re expected to just “suck it up” and keep doing your job (for which you are not well-compensated and overworked). I totally believe Shaw. Just because you have 1-on-1 responsibility, doesn’t mean you aren’t busy helping out everyone else. Direct care facilities are consistently understaffed. You can’t keep your eye on “problematic” patients 24-7, management will not give you the help you need, and they will throw you under the bus in the case that the public finds out what they have been trying to sweep under the rug.

But sure, let’s get rid of those pesky regulations!

Also, as an aside, mental illness (dementia included) doesn’t make people behave that way. Plenty of people with dementia wouldn’t hurt a fly. The problem is with people who already had those tendencies, and the illness itself merely strips away any inhibitions they might have had.