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The breaking news today that a suspect had been identified and arrested for the “sexual assault” of an incapacitated patient at an Arizona long-term care facility brought a flood of emotions and questions.

Of course, it is relieving to know that this predator*, posing as a caregiver, was apprehended.  However, there are many other concerns, including:

  • how many other patients have been victimized in this way by this suspect or others at the facility?
  • how can a patient bear a full-term child without anyone charged with her care realizing she was pregnant?
  • was there a cover-up of dramatic proportions?
  • why is this being called“sexual assault” instead of “rape”?

Here in California, this situation would potentially result in huge criminal and civil liability for both the perpetrator of the rape as well as his employer, and all of the staff that was involved in some way in providing any level of care to the patient.  Many times, facilities end up sacrificing patient care and well-being in favor of financial motivations, and those choices can end up creating environments where staff members who took an oath to protect and help the sick and injured end up looking the other way for fear of losing their job.

Hopefully, this case will serve as a warning to those who are tempted to abuse their patients, to those who are tempted to turn a blind eye to this conduct, and to those who are overseeing and otherwise managing these types of facilities.

*assuming the reports are accurate that the suspect’s DNA matches that of the baby boy born to the facility’s patient.

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