Three Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital workers were found guilty Tuesday for failing to follow a state-mandated law of immediately reporting an alleged sexual assault of a patient.
The verdict concludes a trial that began Sept. 16 in which four Scottsdale Healthcare workers had been charged for failure to report in a timely manner the alleged sexual assault of a 23-year-old female heart patient who was incapacitated.
Sue Livengood, associate vice president of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, Shelly VanVianen, a registered nurse, and Dr. Patricia Crellin, a consulting psychiatrist for the hospital, each could face up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine for the offense, a misdemeanor.
All three were present in the courtroom when the verdicts were read by Scottsdale City Court Judge Wendy Morton.
Both Livengood and VanVianen could face disciplinary actions from the Arizona State Board of Nursing for the infraction.
A former patient had conveyed to her speech therapist on Dec. 12 that she had been sexually assaulted in her room in the intensive care unit on Nov. 17 by a white man in his 30s who was wearing hospital “scrubs” and had short, spiked hair. Hospital workers launched an internal investigation into the alleged incident, but did not inform Scottsdale police about it until Jan. 14.
The former patient was shown about 70 pictures of hospital workers, but did not recognize any of them as her assailant. Police investigators closed the case in April due to a lack of evidence. The hospital workers were charged in May.
“We strongly disagree,” hospital spokesman Stephen Roman said of the ruling. “We think that there was ample evidence to show that the workers did not have a reasonable basis to determine if the alleged incident really happened to move forward with immediately reporting it.
“The good, hard-working professional hospital workers were following the patient’s wishes through the process by not calling police when they first heard about this in December — and those were adamant wishes,” Roman said, “but she later changed her mind and wanted the police called.”
Roman said the hospital plans to appeal Morton’s decision.
Last week, a charge of failure to report the alleged assault was dropped against Madlyn Constantino, a rehabilitation coordinator at the hospital. All four of the workers remain employed by the hospital in their same capacity, Roman said.
Morton handed down the verdict after listening to more than two hours of closing arguments between defense attorney Paul Giancola and Scottsdale city prosecutor Caron Close.
Giancola would not comment on the ruling, but Close said during her closing arguments that there were people in positions of authority and power who should have reported the alleged incident because the patient was incapacitated and vulnerable.
“It wasn’t a medical issue, it wasn’t a legal issue or (human resource) issue — it was a police matter,” Close said.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled within 30 days, Morton said.