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LVRJ: Hospital sexual assault lawsuit filed

Jul 24, 2009 | emkeach | Uncategorized | No Comments


Hospital sexual assault lawsuit filed

A Las Vegas woman filed a lawsuit Thursday that accuses a certified nursing assistant of sexually assaulting her last year while she was recovering from seizures at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center.

The woman, who is identified in the complaint as “Jane Doe,” is one of six female patients who claim they were victimized by Steven Farmer at the hospital.

“Plaintiff Jane Doe was recovering from seizures which were quite severe in nature,” according to the lawsuit. “Steven Farmer entered her room and sexually assaulted Jane Doe. Jane Doe could not scream out because of the damages from the seizures. However, she was conscious, terrorized, in fear, and in severe pain and shock.”

Police arrested Farmer, 57, at his Las Vegas residence on May 16, 2008. He is being held at the Clark County Detention Center while awaiting trial on sexual assault and other charges.

Jane Doe’s lawsuit was filed in District Court by attorneys Robert Murdock and Marty Keach. Named as defendants are Farmer, Centennial Hills Hospital, the Valley Health System, Universal Health Services Foundation and American Nursing Services.

“Patients in hospitals are at the mercy of the hospital to protect them,” Murdock told the Review-Journal.

Centennial is part of the Valley Health System, which is owned by Universal Health Services Inc. of Pennsylvania.

According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe was injured in May 2008 as a result of the corporate defendants’ negligence. The lawsuit also claims Farmer had “sexually assaulted and/or molested other patients” before assaulting her.

Attorney David Ferrainolo, who represents Centennial Hills, stated in an e-mail Thursday that the hospital has not been served with the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on the specific allegations.

“However, the safety of our patients is our top concern and priority,” Ferrainolo wrote. “Centennial Hills has all appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure that the personnel providing patient care meet all legal requirements and assures the community that the patients, guests and employees of Centennial Hills Hospital are safe.”

Another woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by Farmer previously filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

According to an arrest report, that woman said that she had been sexually assaulted on May 16, 2008, “by a male nurse who moved her from the Emergency Room to her assigned room at the hospital.” She had been transported to the emergency room because of a seizure.

The woman told Las Vegas police that Farmer began touching her while they were alone together in the elevator. When they arrived at her room, according to the arrest report, Farmer closed the door and moved her from the gurney to her bed, then began to rub her shoulders.

“Farmer said he was just trying to relax her and that she should be sleeping,” according to the arrest report.

The nursing assistant then began to sexually assault the patient, according to the report, and ignored her pleas to stop. The woman told police she “had her cellular phone under her pillow and while Farmer was touching her she attempted to use the camera to take pictures of what Farmer was doing.”

“When she could hear the camera making noises, she stopped after a few attempts fearing that Farmer would hear the camera clicking…” the report states. “During the entire assault, Farmer kept telling her that he was doing this to help her to relax.”

A detective reviewed the woman’s phone, according to the report, and found two pictures from early that morning that “showed only a black screen.” In addition, the report states, a nurse conducted an exam and found injuries consistent with the assault the patient had described.

Farmer faces three counts of sexual assault, a felony, and two counts of open or gross lewdness, a gross misdemeanor, in connection with the May 16, 2008, incidents involving the woman who said she tried to photograph the crimes.

He also faces four other counts of open or gross lewdness and one count of indecent exposure, a gross misdemeanor, that stem from incidents involving four other patients. According to court records, those incidents occurred in December 2007, April 2008 and May 2008.

Farmer’s trial on all charges involving the five victims is scheduled to begin Nov. 9 before District Judge Ken Cory.

No trial date has been set for a separate case involving a sixth victim. In that case, Farmer faces two counts of sexual assault, three counts of open or gross lewdness, and one count of indecent exposure.

According to the arrest report in that case, a 52-year-old woman contacted Las Vegas police in June 2008. The woman said she had been sexually assaulted and fondled repeatedly by a male nurse while a patient at Centennial Hills the previous month.

After the woman’s release from the hospital, according to the arrest report, she learned of Farmer’s arrest and recognized him “as the same man who had victimized her.”

Because of the woman’s ongoing medical problems, “she was unable to report the incidents sooner,” according to the document.

The woman “suffers from intense seizures that occur 5-10 times in succession, and often more than one episode/time a day,” the arrest report states, and the seizures prevent the woman from speaking for several days.

According to the arrest report, the woman remembers the incidents involving Farmer “but is unsure how long they lasted or how they stopped because of the medication she was on.”

“Three previous victims were at the hospital for seizure related illness/injuries and all were under medication at the time of their victimization by Farmer,” the report states.

“It should also be known that the previous three victims were all at the same hospital on or about the 15th and 16th of May 2008.”

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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