Patients Claim SoCal Hospital Shielded Molesting Worker

A San Fernando Valley hospital knew a nursing assistant was molesting patients but allowed him to keep working, five lawsuits claim.

The suits, including one filed Friday, accused Encino-Tarzana Medical Center of ignoring molestation complaints against Ramon Eduardo Rodas Gaspar.

Gaspar, 39, of Canoga Park, was suspended from work in April 2006. He was arrested for investigation of sexual assault two months later but jumped bail and fled with his wife and toddler son. Police said they suspect he is working at another medical facility somewhere in California, Arizona, Colorado or New Mexico.

An investigation began after three women went to the police last year. Authorities contend that in all, Gaspar groped at least 10 women who were awaking from anesthesia following surgery.

The lawsuits claim that among others, Gaspar molested a woman who was recovering from gall bladder surgery and another who had undergone an appendectomy.

"The hospital has failed to take action to protect their patients, having known of the activities of Mr. Gaspar," said Chris R. Milton, an attorney representing two of the alleged victims.

"This raises grave concern for my clients and it raises grave concerns about the policies and procedures of the hospital to protect their patients."

Hospital officials said it investigated one molestation complaint against Gaspar but was unable to substantiate the claim.

"The bottom line is the hospital responded appropriately and responsibly in taking steps to protect patients and to address the situation as soon as it was reported to them," hospital attorney Ken Drake said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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