Women patients sue over sexual assaults by hospital aide
A nursing assistant at a Santa Barbara rehabilitation hospital sexually assaulted two partially paralyzed patients and, despite a report to the hospital by one of the victims, stayed on the job, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.
Jose Carrillo, 55, of Summerland was arrested in October 2012 on suspicion of sexually assaulting the two female patients, who were recovering from brain injuries at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital.
In each case, the nursing assistant sexually assaulted the women in the shower as he helped them wash, according to police reports.
One of the plaintiffs, a 49-year-old San Luis Obispo woman, says in the lawsuit filed against Carrillo, the hospital and its parent corporation that she was sexually assaulted in January 2011.
The woman says that the attack occurred while she was a patient recovering from a brain tumor that left her partially paralyzed. She alleges that when she reported it to hospital staff, they told her she was “delusional” because of cognitive issues and that such an accusation could hurt an innocent man.
But she reported the attack to police in June 2012 and learned that the hospital had never informed authorities.
The lawsuit alleges that hospital officials knew Carrillo presented a danger because another woman had reported an assault in 2010.
The hospital is already being sued by that patient, who alleges that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Carrillo as he helped her shower. She was recovering from the effects of a stroke at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital between February and April 2010. That woman said she reported the attacks to hospital officials immediately.
“Both victims identified the same nursing assistant as the perpetrator,” said attorney David Ring, the lawyer for both women, who only learned of each other’s stories during the police investigation.
“Both victims were brutally sexually assaulted by this man,” he continued. “Both victims reported the incidents to administrators, doctors, and staff at Cottage Hospital, and both were told that, because of their injuries, they were imagining it and were delusional from having a serious medical condition.”
Hospital spokeswoman Maria Zate released a statement Tuesday that said, in part, “Any allegation of patient abuse is taken extremely seriously, and we have rigorous procedures in place to thoroughly investigate in a timely manner.”
Carrillo remains a licensed nursing assistant, according to state records. But he is no longer employed at the hospital, Zate said.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that in the second woman’s case, she was told the hospital had never received any complaint in the past about the male nursing assistant and that the hospital had informed the police of her accusations. It seeks damages for sexual battery, infliction of emotional distress, fraud, abuse, negligence and premises liability.
The woman was released from the hospital in April 2011. In June 2012, she contacted police and discovered that they had never heard of her sexual assault allegations.
During a subsequent investigation, detectives discovered an earlier victim, a 57-year-old Santa Maria woman who was a patient from February to April 2010, Santa Barbara Police Department spokesman Riley Harwood said.
That information was found after police served a search warrant on the facility. Harwood said the woman “articulated multiple incidents where she was assaulted by Carrillo.”
Carrillo was arrested in October on suspicion of penetration with a foreign object, oral copulation and sexual battery, Harwood said.
Santa Barbara County prosecutors declined to file charges, citing the victims’ cognitive abilities at the time. The first woman, identified as “Sara” by her attorneys, sued the hospital and Carrillo in February, seeking damages for multiple sexual assaults.
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