Former patient sues hospital for negligence, citing sexual assault

June 28, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

A Columbia woman who says she was sexually assaulted by an employee at Howard County General Hospital while she was a patient there has filed a $3 million suit against the hospital and the accused employee.

The woman, who suffers from multiple personality disorder, alleges that Jeffrey R. Hensen touched her breasts and genital area while she was a patient in the hospital's psychiatric ward last June.

Hensen, 22, of the 600 block of Old Liberty Road was charged criminally with first- and third-degree sex offenses and assault and battery in connection with the alleged incident. His trial is scheduled for Aug. 3.

According to the civil suit, Hensen had a history of sexual assaults when he was hired by the hospital as an emergency room technician/hospital attendant. The suit claims the hospital demonstrated negligence by failing to investigate Hensen's background, placing patients in his care at risk.

Howard County General Hospital refused to comment on the lawsuit.

The woman claims that her mental condition deteriorated as a result of the alleged attack and that she has experienced flashbacks of past sexual attacks. According to court records, the woman suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome and multiple personality disorder, stemming from a history of physical and sexual abuse as a child.

The alleged offenses occurred after the woman was admitted to Howard County General's psychiatric ward on June 17 for an attempted aspirin overdose, court records state. The woman worked in an unspecified job at the hospital at the time of the alleged sexual assault and knew Hensen.

About 2:30 a.m. on June 18 the woman "became panicked due to her psychiatric condition" and asked Hensen to check her pulse. In her semi-private room, the woman claims that Hensen fondled her breasts, attempted to kiss her and touched her genital area.

The woman's protests and the presence of another patient caused Hensen to stop, the suit says.

About 10 minutes later, the woman went to the shower room to smoke, and Hensen fondled her and made suggestive remarks, the suit alleges.

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