Local News

Family sues hospital over girl having sex while a patient

SEBRING — The mother of a then 15-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against Highlands Regional Medical Center, saying the hospital is negligent in allowing a situation where a 16-year-old boy had non-consensual sex with her daughter.

The lawsuit alleges that although hospital employees were told that the 16-year-old boy was barred from visiting the 15-year-old, the workers saw the boy in bed with the girl, but did nothing. A condom wrapper was found in the bed the next day, the lawsuit said.

The alleged incident occurred in a room within the intensive care unit of the hospital, said Sam Heller, the attorney for the family.

In an e-mailed statement, Heller said that while his firm generally doesn’t comment on lawsuits, “in this particular case, the allegations speak for themselves and show an incomprehensible betrayal of trust. When we are not able to trust that those charged with maintaining the health of our children are able to keep them safe from harm, justice can only be served by doing everything possible to ensure that something like this can never happen again.”

Highlands Regional Medical Center declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“We appreciate the opportunity, but it is our practice not to comment on litigation,” said Susan Reed, marketing director and hospital spokeswoman.

The 16-year-old was charged with 10 counts of lewd/lascivious behavior and four counts of lewd/lascivious molestation. WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa reported that the 16-year-old ended up being adjudged a delinquent.

The warrant affidavit said that both the male and the female said the sex was consensual, although the girl said that only after the boy was persistent did she agree to have sex. The affidavit doesn’t clearly say whether the incident in the hospital was consensual, but mentioned it before stating about both parties saying the sexual was consensual.

The lawsuit was filed against Health Management Associates, the owner of the hospital at the time and Hospital Management Associates.

It states that during July 2012, the 15-year-old girl got a foot infection while swimming in a lake and was taken to the hospital. During the hospital stay, the mother of the girl notified the ICU nurse on duty that the 16-year-old could not visit her daughter.

Despite that, ICU employees allowed the male to enter the girl’s room and “spend unsupervised time with (the girl), while she was under heavy sedation,” the lawsuit said.

At times, the lawsuit said, the boy was allowed to visit the girl unsupervised while the door was closed, the lawsuit said.

Other times, the lawsuit said, employees saw the boy lying in bed with the girl.

The lawsuit contends that the girl was under heavy sedation and that she never consented to the sex.


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