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Woman sues Las Vegas hospital over attempted sexual assault

Updated December 12, 2017 - 8:15 pm

A woman filed a lawsuit Tuesday that accuses Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center of failing to protect her from a psychiatric patient who tried to sexually assault her.

The woman, identified in the complaint as Jane Doe, was a patient in the hospital’s emergency room in mid-February alongside 24-year-old Oscar Licea, whom the complaint describes as a patient with psychiatric issues. The lawsuit claims Licea was unguarded and unrestrained.

“This is a very sad case and our client, a young girl, has been traumatized,” attorneys Robert Murdock and Marty Keach wrote in an email. “She felt she was safe in a hospital. But because of Centennial’s actions, she wasn’t.”

Licea was allowed to “roam free” through the hospital while the young woman suffered from syncope, or fainting, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the attempted assault was foreseeable and that hospital staff failed to implement safety measures.

Universal Health Services Inc., which runs the hospital, “knows full well that the psychiatric population needs to be separated from the general population in a hospital,” according to the complaint.

A nurse or aide walked the woman to a restroom, and the woman believed the door had been locked, though it had not. The lawsuit claims Licea watched her enter the restroom and followed her inside.

Licea “mumbled something to her and pulled up his hospital gown, exposing his penis,” according to court documents filed in Licea’s incompetency case. He grabbed the woman’s arm and yanked her close to him, the documents allege, but she screamed and was able to free herself.

“No one came in,” according to the woman’s lawsuit, which states that she suffered “extreme and horrific pain and emotional distress” as a result of the incident.

Attorney Kenneth Webster, who represents the hospital, provided the following statement Tuesday on his client’s behalf:

“At Centennial Hills Hospital, patient safety is our first priority. We have not seen the lawsuit filed by the patient in this case and cannot provide a specific response thereto. We are aware of the circumstances surrounding the event at issue, but due to patient privacy protections, cannot comment on any specific patient’s circumstance. We look forward to addressing this matter in the proper venue. We regret this unfortunate incident occurred.”

Licea had previously been found incompetent on a charge of open and gross lewdness after he exposed his genitals and started masturbating in front of a female victim in 2009, according to court records.

The lawsuit, which names the hospital, Valley Health System LLC and Universal Health Services Inc., along with Centennial Hills Hospital CEO Sajit Pullarkat, seeks unspecified damages.

Centennial Hospital previously settled two lawsuits involving a certified nursing assistant who sexually assaulted patients.

In 2015, the hospital reached an undisclosed settlement in a civil case involving a patient who was sexually assaulted seven years prior by Steven Farmer, who is now serving time in prison.

Another sexual assault victim of Farmer’s also sued the hospital and reached a settlement in September 2013.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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