By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press
Two women who say a nurse sexually assaulted them while they were unconscious in intensive care filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Colorado hospital where they were being treated, alleging the hospital’s management didn’t do enough to prevent the abuse.
The lawsuit — which is proposed as a class action suit — alleges St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and SCL Health and Intermountain Healthcare, the companies that ran the hospital, knew or should have known about the actions of the nurse, Christopher Lambros, who has been arrested and charged with sexual assault. Police say Lambros would record himself sexually abusing female patients while they were unconscious or incapacitated.
According to his arrest affidavit, on a day in June when Lambros made five videos of himself abusing a patient, he whispered to the camera saying “don’t ever get rid of these videos” and “you need to keep them forever … this is your Dexter collection.”
The lawsuit claims he was referencing the television show “Dexter,” in which the main character is a serial killer, and says the comment shows he maintained a collection of photos or videos of his victims.
According to court documents, prosecutors have identified three people who they believe were assaulted by Lambros and think a fourth person who has not been identified yet was assaulted in 2016. Lambros began working at St. Mary’s in 2012, according to the lawsuit.
Lambros’ lawyer, Scott Burrill, did not return a call or email seeking comment.
In a statement, St. Mary’s said it is fully cooperating in the investigation into Lambros but declined comment on the lawsuit.
“We cannot offer further details about this matter out of respect for patient privacy,” it said.
Siddhartha Rathod, one of the lawyers for the women who filed the lawsuit, said they are the same women Lambros is charged with assaulting. He said the third victim who has been identified has since died.
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As part of the criminal case, prosecutors have told his clients that investigators recovered four terabytes of data as evidence and are still investigating how many people were assaulted, Rathod said. He said part of the reason the suit is being filed is to encourage any other potential victims to come forward.
“This is about public safety and about hospitals ensuring that their patients are not only safe but treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
In statement, District Attorney Dan Rubenstein declined to comment on the evidence and what it may reveal. He noted that both the women’s lawyers and hospital representatives have been communicating with prosecutors as they try to navigate the “complicated situation” of protecting patient privacy laws and getting information needed to prosecute the criminal case.
“We cannot comment on what evidence we have, and also cannot speculate on what we may find,” he said.
One of the women in the lawsuit said she was sexually abused as a child and that she is angry, anxious and depressed after being victimized again. She said she has not received even an apology from the hospital but she’s still charged $905 each month from her bank account under a payment plan to pay the bill for her hospital stay. She also gets regular email and a text reminders of the debit.
“It’s a slap in the face,” she said.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted.