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Police arrest nursing assistant accused of sexually assaulting patient

Woman recovering from surgery reports alleged crime to another employee

A nursing assistant accused of sexually assaulting a patient recovering from surgery at Webster House Medical Center in Palo Alto was arrested Thursday, police said.

The nursing assistant, a 63-year-old man from East Palo Alto, checked on the patient on Sunday while she was in her room recovering from surgery and in need of assistance, police said in a press release. During the visit, the assistant drew the curtains and allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The patient, who is in her 70s, reported the alleged assault to another employee and police were notified around 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to the press release. The medical center, located downtown at 437 Webster St. near University Avenue, provides 24/7 service to people in need of short- or long-term rehabilitation.

Detectives investigated the report and secured an arrest warrant for the man, who was taken into custody on Thursday morning, police said. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on suspicion of rape, sexual penetration, oral copulation, sexual battery and elder abuse.

He is in custody on $390,000 bail, according to the county's inmate locator database. Santa Clara County Superior Court records indicate he was arraigned on charges related to the alleged crime on Monday afternoon (July 17).

Police are looking into whether other people were sexually assaulted by the man.

Covia, a Walnut Creek-based nonprofit that operates Webster House, was "devastated" to learn about the sexual assault allegedly committed by one of their employees, according to a statement provided to the Weekly by Laura Darling, vice president of communications and spiritual care.

"The well-being of our residents is always our primary concern. Any form of elder abuse or abuse of any kind is antithetical to Covia's core values," according to the statement.

Once the organization learned about the alleged assault, the nursing assistant was removed from resident care activities and terminated from the job, Covia said.

In response to the alleged assault, Covia said it has provided the patient with professional support and services to give her appropriate care; notified her doctor, police, the state Department of Public Health and local ombudsman offices of the incident; and cooperated with the police and state public health department investigations.

"We will continue to assess our resident for signs and symptoms of injuries and emotional distress and will continue to provide care and support as any needs might arise," the statement read.

Anyone with information about the alleged sexual assault is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

Editor's note: The Weekly's policy is to withhold the names of those arrested for most crimes until the District Attorney has determined there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case. See our guidelines here.

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