A patient who claims she was sexually assaulted by a nursing assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center while she was heavily medicated described a feeling of helplessness when the alleged crime occurred.
"It's devastating," she said, to be victimized "when you're incapacitated and not yourself and weak and scared." The Times generally does not name alleged victims in sex crime cases.
Authorities are now investigating allegations the nursing assistant, who has since been fired, sexually assaulted two patients while they were heavily medicated and too weak to resist, according to court records and interviews.
The Times reported on allegations Tuesday in a story by Ani Ucar and Jack Leonard.
The women came forward separately last year and gave Los Angeles police similar accounts about how a male employee assaulted them while they were being treated at the hospital.
Detectives served a search warrant at Cedars-Sinai this year to obtain disciplinary records for Guillermo Fernando Diaz, a nursing assistant who had been assigned to a heart patient area. Diaz, 56, was fired in July, according to the hospital. He declined to speak to The Times.
A district attorney's spokeswoman said prosecutors are reviewing whether to file criminal charges.
In November, the state's Department of Public Health revoked Diaz's nursing assistant certification after conducting an investigation into the sexual assault allegations. In a letter informing Diaz of its decision, the agency said it had substantiated multiple allegations of unprofessional conduct.
During the LAPD probe, a detective discovered two older sexual assault accusations by patients against Diaz — one dating back 14 years — as well as a decade-old complaint by a co-worker who claimed Diaz raped her after an office party. None of those cases resulted in criminal charges.
Diaz has been interviewed by police several times in the last 14 years and denied sexually assaulting patients or the co-worker, according to the search warrant.
In the wake of the complaints, Cedars-Sinai has taken steps to link previously separate databases of employee records, patient complaints and other information, said hospital spokeswoman Sally Stewart. She said the hospital made the changes to improve tracking of allegations against individual staff members but added it would be speculation to say whether the new system would have led to earlier action in Diaz's case.
Stewart noted Diaz was never charged as a result of separate LAPD probes of sexual assault reports made before last year. The hospital, she said, investigated all of the complaints and 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.