Controversial Scottsdale hospital trial near end - East Valley Tribune: News

Controversial Scottsdale hospital trial near end

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Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008 7:26 pm | Updated: 9:37 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Closing arguments are set to be heard today in a controversial trial involving three Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn workers charged with failure to report an alleged sexual assault of a heart patient in a timely manner.

Charge dismissed against 1 of 4 hospital workers

Trial for not reporting alleged assault resumes

Two testify at trial of hospital employees

Patricia Crellin, a consulting psychiatrist for the hospital; Shelly VanVianen, a registered nurse at the hospital; and Sue Livengood, associate vice president of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, have been charged in the case and could face up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted.

Crellin and VanVianen testified Monday during the daylong hearing in Scottsdale City Court before Judge Wendy Morton.

Defense attorneys contended that no expert witnesses were called to testify to provide opinions as to whether the alleged victim, a 23-year-old female former heart patient who had suffered a severe stroke, was incapacitated or vulnerable. The defense also argued that it was never determined if there was reasonable basis to believe that the alleged assault really happened.

The patient had conveyed to a speech therapist on Dec. 12 that she was sexually assaulted Nov.17 while in a bed in the hospital's intensive care unit. She described the attacker as a white man in his 30s with short hair who appeared to be a hospital worker wearing scrubs.

Hospital workers said they conducted an internal investigation into the alleged incident but did not inform police about it until Jan. 14. Prior to police involvement, the woman was shown about 70 pictures of hospital workers by Gary Purcell, the supervisor of hospital security, but the woman did not recognize any of them. No suspect was found, and police ended their investigation in April.

Providing emotional testimony on Monday, VanVianen maintained that she always questioned whether the incident really happened because the woman was very "insightful" and was capable of doing certain things before and after the alleged incident.

VanVianen said that the woman could roll her eyes at her mother when she left her hospital room, tap her head for remembering something she knew she should not have forgotten and point to her father's jacket so he would remember to take it as he left her room.

"If she could do all of that then, then why did she wait until Dec. 12 to share that information with us?" VanVianen said.

VanVianen said that although she became aware of the alleged incident in December, she respected the patient's wishes not to call the police.

However, when the woman was told by VanVianen that they did show her one picture of a certified nursing assistant who contracted with the hospital, the woman said to contact police.

When the woman was shown the picture of the assistant in March, she said she did not recognize him, according to a Scottsdale police report.

Hospital representatives have accused the Scottsdale city prosecutor's office of "selective prosecution" because five Scottsdale police officers also investigated the delayed report of the sexual assault and did not report it to Adult Protective Services.

Of the two police officers, two detectives and one sergeant who investigated the alleged incident in January, none of them interviewed any of the former patient's caregivers who worked the day the alleged incident happened, according to testimony and Scottsdale City Court documents.

They also did not review any of the woman's medical records to determine if there were any changes in her behavior, according to testimony and court documents.

Caron Close, Scottsdale city prosecutor, argued that reporting such incidents is a state standard and there is no requirement for anyone to review medical records before reporting the incident in a timely manner.

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