46-year-old nursing assistant Peter Francis Dunne was arrested on Friday for allegedly sexually assaulting a female patient while he was working at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. Dunne has been charged with three felonies - assault with intent to rape, sexual assault with force, and oral copulation.
According to law enforcement officials, the assault occurred in March of 2019 and was reported to the police the next day. A police investigation found that Dunne has been working in the hospital's emergency department at the time of the alleged assault. He was arrested at his home on August 30 and booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail with bail set at $100,000.
Investigators with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office are continuing to investigate and are looking for other victims, witnesses, and other information related to this case and potentially other cases of crimes involving Dunne. In a press release, detectives said that they believe Dunner had access to other patients outside of Dominican Hospital.
Anyone with information related to this case has been urged to contact Sgt. Christ Shearer at 831-454-7645.
Attorney contributor Bobby Thompson understands how the civil court system can help survivors of sexual assault find justice. Here are a few thoughts from Bobby on the legal rights of those who have been sexually assaulted by medical professionals:
Medical professionals are some of the most trusted members of their communities. Everyone trusts that these professionals will provide them with the best quality of care when it's needed. But sadly, with this trust comes the potential for abuse. There have been many cases of nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals sexually assaulting their patients.
Hospitals and other medical facilities must do everything they can to make sure that their employees are trustworthy and that their patients are safe. In some cases, sexual assaults of patients by medical staff may have been prevented if not for negligence by the facility where the assault occurred. In such cases of negligence, the victims and their families may have the right to file a lawsuit.
For example, a hospital could be considered negligent for a sexual assault committed by an employee if the hospital had received previous complaints involving sexual misconduct by that employee but failed to act on those complaints.
If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted at a hospital, you can learn more about your legal rights by speaking with an experienced sexual assault victims attorney.