Settlement Reached in Eisenhower Medical Center Sexual Assault Suit

News Staff

A woman who sued Eisenhower Medical Center alleging that a nurse’s aide sexually assaulted her during an overnight stay at the hospital settled her suit with the Rancho Mirage medical center and the former nursing aide Thursday.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe in court documents, alleged that Gil Ernesto Lopez, 50, of Cathedral City, assaulted her in August 2015 on her third consecutive night of inpatient care at the hospital, where she was being treated for complications following gall bladder surgery.

Lopez was arrested and charged about six months later, but was acquitted of charges of forcible sexual penetration, sexual penetration with a foreign object and sexual battery for the purpose of sexual arousal last December during a criminal trial. Jurors, who declined to speak with reporters following the reading of the verdict, deliberated for just over a day before clearing Lopez.

Terms of the settlement were not divulged, but attorneys for Doe, Eisenhower Medical Center and Lopez convened at the Palm Springs courthouse Thursday morning to advise the court that an unconditional settlement had been reached.

During the criminal trial in Indio, Doe testified that she was asleep in her hospital room when Lopez began fluffing the pillows beneath her legs.

After making sexually charged comments to her, he moved his hand onto her leg, then sexually assaulted her while she pleaded with him to stop, Doe said. She testified that she tried to push him away, but the prescribed morphine left her “paralyzed” with “no power” to resist the assault, which she said lasted between two and three minutes but “felt like an eternity.”

Deputy District Attorney Deana Bohenek told the jury that Lopez “sexually assaulted Jane Doe as she lay helpless in her hospital bed.”

The prosecution alleged he became “spooked” midway through the assault and retreated to a bathroom before returning and assaulting her again.

Lopez was brought in for questioning the following month and denied any sexual contact with the patient, Bohenek said.

However, in a second interview, Lopez said he noticed the woman’s oxygen monitor wasn’t working and put his hand in hers to try to warm it. He said she then moved his hand toward her midsection in a way that Lopez misconstrued as a consensual act, the prosecutor said. Lopez said he did not bring up the incident during his first interview because he was too embarrassed to tell the truth, according to Bohenek.

Defense attorney Bosky Kathuria contended throughout the trial that Lopez was falsely accused, and said Doe had invented the assault in a scheme to obtain a seven-figure sum in punitive damages from the hospital.

Doe’s lawsuit alleged that Eisenhower should have been aware that Lopez was “unfit” to be an employee at the hospital, “particularly placed alone with female patients.”

The plaintiff returned to the hospital in November 2015 for follow-up treatment and was “shocked” and “horrified” to discover that Lopez was still working at Eisenhower during the ongoing sheriff’s investigation and was assigned to the same floor where she was staying, according to her court papers. She claims she immediately checked out of the hospital against the advice of hospital officials.

Lopez was put on leave at some point after the plaintiff’s November stay and resigned his post sometime in 2016, according to hospital officials.

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