38-year-old nurse Jose Cruz was arrested on Monday, May 7 for allegedly sexually assaulting a patient who was under his care at Health First's Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne.
According to police reports, Cruz inappropriately touched the patient and told the patient that it was part of medical treatment. Police said that Cruz told the patient he was checking her body for abnormalities.
The examination began with a female certified nurse's aid present. However, the patient told police that Cruz asked the aide to retrieve something and waited until she left before touching the patient inappropriately. This was in violation of a hospital rule which requires a second medical professional to be in the room during full-body exams.
According to detectives, Cruz initially claimed that the aid had stayed in the room. He said that the exam he gave is referred to in hospital policy as a "four eyes" exam, which means that two pairs of eyes are required to be on the patient at all times. Detectives say that they noticed several inconsistencies in the story and that the aide told them she had left the room before the exam.
At first, Cruz denied touching the patient inappropriately but eventually admitted to touching that was not part of a normal exam. The woman told police that she became uncomfortable and questioned what Cruz was doing. He allegedly told her that this was a routine part of the exam.
Cruz was arrested and has been charged with sexual battery. He is being held at the Brevard County Jail Complex in lieu of a $35,500 bond and has been suspended from his position at Holmes.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard represents victims of sexual assault in civil lawsuits. We've asked Michael to share some thoughts on the legal options available to those who have been sexually assaulted by medical professionals:
In the medical field, it's critical that all employees are trustworthy people who can be counted on to treat their patients with respect. Unfortunately, there is also a high potential for abuse in this field.
Reporting these crimes to law enforcement is crucial in order to make sure the perpetrator does not continue seeing patients. However, the legal options for victims don't end here. In many cases, victims of sexual assault by medical professionals may have grounds for a lawsuit against their abuser, the facility where the abuse occurred, or both.
Medical facilities can be held liable for abuse by employees if their negligence is to blame for a failure to prevent the abuse. For example, a hospital could be considered negligent if they failed to run a background check before hiring an employee who had a history of sexual misconduct.
If you or someone you love has been sexually assaulted by a medical professional, you can better understand your family's legal options by speaking with an experienced sexual assault survivors lawyer.