Ex-patient accuses Cedars-Sinai of negligence in alleged sex assault

Ex-patient accuses Cedars-Sinai of negligence in alleged sex assault
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A former patient at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center accused the hospital of negligence in a lawsuit filed Monday in which she said she was sexually assaulted last year by a certified nursing assistant after she underwent surgery.

The woman alleged in the suit that the hospital failed to adequately respond to complaints of sexual assaults that accused the same employee dating back more than a decade.


In addition, the patient said Cedars-Sinai never interviewed her or took any effort to investigate after she reported the assault to the hospital June 13. Her lawsuit said she made several attempts to speak to someone at Cedars-Sinai before being told that the employee had been fired and that she could report the matter to police if she wanted further action taken.

The lawsuit, which also alleges dependent adult abuse as well as medical malpractice, alleges Guillermo Diaz, a former certified nursing assistant at the hospital, sexually assaulted her. Diaz's certification was revoked by the state last year following allegations of sexual abuse, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The hospital has said Diaz was suspended June 18 and fired July 11.

A man who answered Diaz's cellphone declined to be interviewed.

Los Angeles Police began an investigation into Diaz last year after two patients came forward to report they had been sexually assaulted by a Cedars-Sinai employee, according to a search warrant filed by police earlier this year.

During the LAPD investigation, a detective discovered two older sexual assault accusations by patients against Diaz -- one dating back to 2000 -- as well as a decade-old complaint by a co-worker who claimed Diaz raped her after an office party, according to the search warrant. None of those cases resulted in criminal charges. Diaz, 56, denied wrongdoing during interviews with police, according to the search warrant.

A district attorney's spokeswoman said Monday that prosecutors have yet to decide whether to file criminal charges against Diaz in connection with the latest investigation.

A spokesman for the hospital did not provide an immediate response to the lawsuit.

In a statement to The Times more than a week before Monday's lawsuit was filed, a Cedars-Sinai spokeswoman said that the hospital fully investigated all of the sexual assault complaints.

Spokeswoman Sally Stewart said Cedars-Sinai recently took steps to link previously separate databases of employee records, patient complaints and other information. She said the hospital made the changes to improve tracking of allegations against individual staff members but added that it would be speculation to say whether the new system would have led to earlier action in Diaz's case.

Stewart noted that Diaz was never charged as a result of separate LAPD investigations of sexual assault reports made before last year. The hospital, she said, encouraged the patients who came forward last year to report what occurred to police.

"The totality of all the allegations is completely unacceptable to Cedars-Sinai," Stewart said.

Monday's lawsuit alleged that a 43-year-old patient was assaulted in April 2013 after she underwent a nine-hour surgery to remove a tumor from her pancreas. She said she was "very weak and in excruciating pain following the surgery."

Diaz, the lawsuit alleges, offered her a back rub but moved his hands to her breasts and then her groin, despite the patient telling him to stop.

"It is outrageous that Cedars-Sinai allowed Mr. Diaz to continue working there despite repeated complaints of him sexually abusing patients," attorney Michael Alder, whose firm is representing the former patient, said in a statement. "It is tragic that the alleged attack on our client was completely preventable by this institution."

Twitter: @jackfleonard

Twitter: @aniucar