A lawsuit has been filed in California against medical transport provider American Medical Response West for its alleged oversight that led to the sexual assault of an 82-year-old Asian woman by one of its paramedics.
The suit, which was filed at the San Mateo County Superior Court last week, also names Colorado-based American Medical Response (AMR) as a defendant, according to AP News. AMR has multiple locations nationwide.
The alleged sexual assault occurred on Dec. 23, 2022. The paramedic in question, Miguel Nieblas Ontiveros, 35, was dispatched with a partner to Colma Skilled Nursing Home to transport the would-be victim to a medical facility.
The unidentified senior, who had injured herself in a fall, reportedly suffers from mild Parkinson’s disease and other health issues. In the ambulance, she was strapped on a gurney and put on a cervical collar, which rendered her immobile.
Ontiveros’ partner drove the ambulance, which left him alone with the elderly woman, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported. Ontiveros allegedly instructed his partner to drive to San Mateo Medical Center, which was 30 minutes away, instead of Seton Medical Center in Daly City, which was less than two miles from the victim’s home.
It was during this extended trip that Ontiveros allegedly turned off the lights, blindfolded the victim and performed “forced oral copulation.”
“It’s a horrific situation. Our client is an 82-year-old Asian woman who was frail and she needed to be transported to a hospital,” Anne Marie Murphy, the lead attorney on the case, told AP News. “Unfortunately, the paramedic in the back was a sexual predator.”
Upon arriving at the medical center, Ontiveros’ partner allegedly saw him buckling his pants. The suspicious sight prompted his partner to report Ontiveros to their supervisor.
Meanwhile, the victim, who only spoke Cantonese, struggled to describe the series of events. However, her daughter-in-law soon arrived at the hospital and translated her statements to the police, as per the Daily Journal.
AMR said it immediately reported the incident to California Highway Patrol. Ontiveros was then put on unpaid leave before being fired in April following his arrest.
An investigation revealed that Ontiveros is also accused of sexually assaulting another woman, aged 80, in May 2022.
However, the victim was deemed not mentally competent and there was no other evidence that corroborated the incident.
The suit filed on Monday claims that AMR knew or should have known about the May 2022 allegation. It also accuses the company of hiring or retaining Ontiveros despite a 2020 grand theft case related to his previous job at the South San Francisco Fire Department.
Murphy and her team argue that AMR prioritized “profit over safety.” They believe Ontiveros was kept on the staff because the company struggled to hire or retain employees. They are seeking unspecified compensation for their client, who now fears having contracted a sexually transmitted disease and had refused to get into an ambulance after another fall in April.
Ontiveros, who has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of forcible oral copulation and elder abuse, is reportedly being held on a $3 million bail.
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