The Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
Subchapter 001 : Reports of Abuse of Vulnerable Adults(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 6902)
§ 6902. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Abuse” means:
(A) Any medical treatment that purposely, knowingly, or recklessly places the life, health, or welfare of a vulnerable adult in jeopardy or is likely to result in impairment of health to the vulnerable adult.
(B) Any conduct committed purposely, knowingly, or recklessly that is likely to cause unnecessary harm, unnecessary pain, or unnecessary suffering to a vulnerable adult or places the life, health, or welfare of a vulnerable adult in jeopardy or is likely to result in impairment of health to the vulnerable adult.
(C) Confinement, seclusion, restraint, or interference with the freedom of movement of a vulnerable adult, unless necessary to ensure the health and safety the vulnerable adults or others.
(D)(i) Any sexual activity or acts of a sexual nature with a vulnerable adult by a caregiver. This definition shall not apply to a consensual relationship between a vulnerable adult and a spouse or household member as defined in 15 V.S.A. § 1101, or to a consensual relationship between a vulnerable adult and a caregiver hired, supervised, and directed by the vulnerable adult.
(ii) Any sexual activity or acts of a sexual nature with a vulnerable adult when the vulnerable adult does not consent or when the individual knows or should know that the vulnerable adult is incapable of resisting or consenting to the sexual activity due to age, disability, or fear of retribution or hardship, regardless of whether the individual has actual knowledge of the adult’s status as a vulnerable adult.
(E) Purposely or recklessly subjecting a vulnerable adult to behavior that a reasonable person would expect to result in serious emotional or psychological distress, including intimidation, fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, or disorientation.
(F) Administration, or threatened administration, of a drug or substance to a vulnerable adult for a purpose other than legitimate and lawful medical or therapeutic treatment.
(G) Wrongful denial or withholding of necessary medication, care, durable medical equipment, or treatment.
(H) Use of deception, force, threat, undue influence, harassment, duress, or fraud to induce a vulnerable adult to request or consent to receive or refuse treatment.
(2) “Activities of daily living” means dressing and undressing, bathing, personal hygiene, bed mobility, toilet use, transferring, mobility in and around the home, communication, and eating.
(3) “Acts of a sexual nature” means fondling, exposure of genitals, and lewd and lascivious conduct.
(4) “Adult” means any individual who is 18 years of age or older.
(5) “Alleged perpetrator” means the individual alleged to have abused, neglected, or exploited the alleged victim.
(6) “Alleged victim” means the individual who is alleged to have been abused, neglected, or exploited by the alleged perpetrator.
(7) “Assessment” means a process by which Adult Protective Services gathers additional information to determine if an investigation should be opened.
(8) “Care” means subsistence, medical services, personal care services, mental health services, or rehabilitative services and includes assistance with activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living.
(9) “Caregiver” means:
(A) a worker or employee in a facility or program that provides care to an adult who is an elder or has a disability and who has assumed the responsibility voluntarily, by contract, or by an order of the court; or
(B) a person with a designated responsibility for providing care to a person that is required because of the person’s age or disability.
(10) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.
(11) “Department” means the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.
(12) “Employer” means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis.
(13) “Exploitation” means:
(A) willfully or knowingly using, withholding, transferring, or disposing of funds or property of a vulnerable adult without or in excess of legal authority to the detriment of a vulnerable adult;
(B) purposeful unauthorized access, sharing, or use of identifying information, image or likeness, personal accounts, or documents of a vulnerable adult without or in excess of legal authority to the detriment of the vulnerable adult or for the wrongful profit or advantage of another;
(C) breach of duty by a guardian, agent, or other fiduciary to the detriment of a vulnerable adult;
(D) acquiring or attempting to acquire possession or control of or an interest in funds or property of a vulnerable adult through the use of deception, force, threat, undue influence, harassment, duress, or fraud;
(E) refusing to return or surrender possession or control of an interest in funds or property of a vulnerable adult upon the request of a vulnerable adult or the vulnerable adult’s representative;
(F) knowingly failing to use a vulnerable adult’s income and assets for the necessities required for that vulnerable adult’s support and maintenance;
(G) influencing or persuading a vulnerable adult to perform services with substandard compensation for the profit or advantage of another.
(14) “Expungement” means the removal of an individual’s name and associated identifying information from the Adult Abuse Registry.
(15) “Instrumental activities of daily living” means meal preparation, medication management, phone use, money management, household maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, shopping, transportation, and care of adaptive equipment.
(16) “Interested person” means a representative of the vulnerable adult; Adult Protective Services staff; the Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living; or the Commissioner’s designee.
(17) “Investigative summary report” means the document that summarizes the investigation conducted by Adult Protective Services and includes a recommendation to substantiate or unsubstantiate the investigated allegations against the alleged perpetrator.
(18) “Lewd or lascivious conduct” has the same meaning as in 13 V.S.A. § 1375.
(19) “Maltreatment” means abuse, neglect, or exploitation as defined in this section. “Maltreatment” does not include self-neglect.
(20) “Mandatory reporter” means an individual with an obligation to report allegations of maltreatment of vulnerable adults pursuant to 6903 of this title.
(21)(A) “Neglect” means purposeful, knowing, or reckless failure or omission by a caregiver that has resulted in, or could be expected to result in, physical or psychological harm, including a failure or omission to:
(i) provide care or arrange for goods or services necessary to maintain the health or safety of a vulnerable adult, including food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical services, unless the caregiver is acting pursuant to the wishes of the vulnerable adult or the vulnerable adult’s representative, or an advance directive, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9701;
(ii) make a reasonable effort, in accordance with the authority granted the caregiver, to protect a vulnerable adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by others;
(iii) carry out a plan of care for a vulnerable adult unless the caregiver is acting pursuant to the wishes of the vulnerable adult or the vulnerable adult’s representative, or an advance directive, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9701; or
(iv) report significant changes in the health status of a vulnerable adult to a physician, nurse, or immediate supervisor, when the caregiver is employed by an organization that offers, provides, or arranges for personal care.
(B) Neglect does not include self-neglect.
(22) “Plan of care” means a medically approved plan of treatment, protocol, individual care plan, rehabilitative plan, plan to address activities of daily living, or similar procedure describing the care, treatment, or services to address a vulnerable adult’s physical, psychological, or rehabilitative needs.
(23) “Protective services” means services, actions, measures, or interventions that are intended, through voluntary agreement or through appropriate court action, to prevent further neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Such services may include referrals, petitioning for relief from abuse, or petitioning for the appointment of a guardian.
(24) “Provider” means an individual, organization, or entity that provides care to adults known to be vulnerable.
(25) “Recommendation for substantiation” means that an investigation has been conducted and the Adult Protective Services investigator has concluded that the preponderance of the evidence discovered in the course of the investigation would lead a reasonable person to believe that the alleged perpetrator abused, neglected, or exploited the vulnerable adult.
(26) “Report” means the statements provided to Adult Protective Services from a reporter alleging that a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited.
(27) “Reporter” means the person who has submitted a report to Adult Protective Services.
(28) “Representative” means a court-appointed guardian, an agent acting under an advance directive executed pursuant to 18 V.S.A. chapter 231, or an agent under a power of attorney, unless otherwise specified in the terms of the power of attorney.
(29)(A) “Self-neglect” means an adult’s inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care tasks including:
(i) obtaining essential food, clothing, shelter, and medical care;
(ii) obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, or general safety; or
(iii) managing one’s own financial affairs.
(B) The term “self-neglect,” which is not maltreatment by another and is distinct from the definition of “neglect,” excludes individuals who make a conscious and voluntary choice not to provide for certain basic needs as a matter of lifestyle, personal preference, or religious belief and who understand the consequences of their decision.
(30) “Sexual activity” means a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251 other than appropriate medical care or personal hygiene.
(31) “Substantiated” means that the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee has determined, after the investigation, that a report demonstrates, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited by the alleged perpetrator.
(32) “Unsubstantiated” means that an investigation has been conducted without a recommendation of substantiation. “Unsubstantiated” does not imply that maltreatment of a vulnerable adult by an alleged perpetrator did or did not occur. Reasons for unsubstantiation include:
(A) the Adult Protective Services investigator’s conclusion that the preponderance of the evidence would not lead a reasonable person to believe that the alleged perpetrator had abused, neglected, or exploited the vulnerable adult;
(B) evidence that the alleged victim is not vulnerable;
(C) evidence that maltreatment did not occur; or
(D) a lack of sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the alleged victim meets the definition of a vulnerable adult or that maltreatment occurred.
(33) “Volunteer” means an individual who, without compensation, provides services through a private or public organization.
(34) “Vulnerable adult” means any person 18 years of age or older who:
(A)(i) is a resident of a facility required to be licensed under chapter 71 of this title;
(ii) is a resident of a psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric unit of a hospital;
(B) was receiving assistance with personal care services for more than one month from a designated home health agency or from a person or organization that offers, provides, or arranges for personal care or is determined to be clinically eligible to receive Long-Term Medicaid waiver services; or
(C) regardless of residence or whether any type of service is received, has a physical, mental, or developmental disability; infirmities as a result of brain damage or a mental condition; or infirmities of aging resulting in:
(i) impairment of the individual’s ability to independently engage in activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living or to provide for some aspect of the adult’s own personal care without assistance; or
(ii) some impairment of the adult’s ability to protect the adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. (Added 1979, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1983, No. 203 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1985, No. 78, § 2; 1993, No. 100, § 1; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 17, eff. June 13, 2002; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 130; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 215; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 84, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 23, §§ 63, 64; 2015, No. 97 (Adj. Sess.), § 69; 2021, No. 20, § 344; 2023, No. 81, § 1, eff. July 1, 2023.)