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Santa Fe hospital sued over alleged sexual assault of numbed woman

SANTA FE – A local newspaper editor is suing Christus St. Vincent hospital following an alleged sexual assault that she says occurred during a hospital stay.

A state court lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of Jill McLaughlin, editor of the Los Alamos Monitor, alleges that an unknown employee used McLaughlin’s hand to fondle himself while she was unable to move her arms while at the hospital for a medical procedure in September 2018.

The complaint names the hospital, its parent organization Christus Health and a hospital employee referred to only as John Doe as defendants.

For a neck treatment procedure, the suit states, McLaughlin was given an anesthetic numbing agent for her arms, was placed head down on a surgical table and secured with straps. Although she couldn’t move her arms, McLaughlin was conscious during the procedure, her attorney Kate Ferlic said Wednesday.

During treatment, an unknown man held her right hand, Following the procedure, he moved to the other side of the table and placed her left hand on his genitals, the suit states.

“Ms. McLaughlin was unable to pull her hand away or move away from John Doe,” the complaint states.

Ferlic, a partner in Santa Fe’s Egolf + Ferlic + Martinez + Harwood law firm, told the Journal that because of her position on the table McLaughlin did not see the face of the alleged perpetrator but because the incident took place in an operating room, it’s believed that he was a hospital employee.

McLaughlin reported the incident to hospital personnel and local police, according to the complaint, but she did not hear back from the hospital. Santa Fe Police did not respond to the Journal’s request for an incident report Wednesday.

“Despite repeated requests, Ms. McLaughlin has received no information on St. Vincent’s Hospital’s alleged investigation, about the identity of the perpetrator, on the consequences of the perpetrator, and no follow up and no apology,” the court complaint states. “The utterly callous lack of response from St. Vincent Hospital has been almost as disturbing as the incident itself.”

In a statement provided by her attorney, McLaughlin said, “I am deeply disappointed by St. Vincent’s inaction on this very serious allegation against one of its employees. By ignoring this behavior, companies put every woman who enters their facilities at risk. The message to women is to stay silent and that their concerns don’t matter.”

Christus St. Vincent spokesperson Arturo Delgado said “we cannot discuss or share any patient information nor can we discuss any situation that is currently going through the legal process.”

McLaughlin is requesting unspecified damages for assault and battery, negligence, and violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

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