NATIONAL NEWS

A 76-year-old woman has sued a Kansas hospital saying a man sexually assaulted her at the facility

Jul 11, 2023, 3:35 PM

A man has been charged with rape and other crimes in a series of sexual assaults on patients in a Kansas hospital, and a 76-year-old woman who says she was among his victims has blamed negligence and carelessness by the facility.

The woman filed a lawsuit Monday against Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Wichita seeking in excess of $75,000.

Miguel Rodela, 28, was charged last month with multiple counts of rape, attempted rape and battery, and is jailed on $250,000 bond. Rodela, who was neither a patient nor a hospital employee, was apprehended in the pre-dawn hours of June 15 after fighting with security guards. His attorney in the public defender’s office declined to comment.

The 76-year-old woman said she awoke around 1 a.m. that day to a man manipulating her catheter. She told police she assumed he was fixing it but noticing he was wearing no gloves or medical attire, she told him to find someone else to fix the catheter, according to the probable cause affidavit.

A nurse walked into the room, but when the man said he was a nursing student, the nurse left without questioning him. Soon after, the patient hit a call button to get the nurse to return and the man left. Security was summoned and the woman reported: “He violated me.”

The lawsuit notes that Rodel was in the patient’s room for more than 20 minutes.

“No patient should ever have to face such a violation of their dignity and safety, let alone in a hospital setting,” her attorney, Matt Dwyer, at Hutton & Hutton Law Firm, said in a written statement.

But that wasn’t the end, court records show. The security officer had just started checking surveillance video when he was alerted to another assault on the seventh floor. A nurse technician there found Rodela embracing an 82-year-old woman, his hands under the blankets. The patient said the man had kissed her on the mouth, according to the affidavit.

Soon after that, a security officer on the sixth floor spotted Rodela on top of a 47-year-old patient, lifting up her shirt. The patient had a traumatic brain injury that rendered her unable to speak and Rodela told a nurse he was her relative, although she was skeptical, according to the affidavit.

Under questioning, Rodela told police he had been drinking and having sexual fantasies about hospitalized patients. He said he entered the hospital through a door behind an employee, and that he came into contact with at least three patient. He said he rubbed and kissed them until they woke up, the affidavit said.

The hospital said in a written statement that it is reviewing its security procedures but declined to comment on the litigation.

The lawsuit notes that unionized nurses from the hospital held a one-day strike less than two weeks after the sexual assaults, identifying safety as one of their main concerns.

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A 76-year-old woman has sued a Kansas hospital saying a man sexually assaulted her at the facility