Parkland Memorial Hospital is the nation’s largest healthcare facility ever forced into federal oversight to remedy patient-safety dangers. How did the landmark Dallas County public hospital reach this precipice? The problems have been years in the making.
By BROOKS EGERTON
The nurse aide was accused of raping a grandmother who could barely walk. Doctors moved her from Parkland Memorial Hospital to another facility, where caregivers caught the man trying to track her down. Parkland fired him for “unsatisfactory work performance” and moved on.
Hospital police overlooked or ignored potential evidence and never filed charges. Hospital administrators failed to alert state regulators, as required by law. And Manuel Rodriguez went to work for a hospice company, caring for dying people in their homes. He denies wrongdoing, and Parkland said its police force found no evidence to support the rape allegation.
Parkland Memorial Hospital faces an April 2013 federal deadline to prove it is safe. How did Dallas’s landmark public hospital reach this precipice? Read First, do no harm, a compilation of The Dallas Morning News’ coverage of Parkland’s patient-safety crisis. The case is one of at least 25 in recent years in which patients accused Parkland caregivers of sexual abuse. Parkland’s in-house police force — which controls all criminal investigations of hospital staff — made no arrests. One caregiver was ticketed and fined.
Parkland has made it difficult to see how the cases were handled. The public hospital has sued the Texas attorney general in an effort to shield records. For a year, hospital officials refused to release any police investigative reports to The Dallas Morning News and would not answer most questions. Last month, they again declined interview requests, but did release a four-page statement and a selection of police records.
But the newspaper, using other sources, had already pieced together extensive details about several cases. All showed signs of poor police work, with one going officially uninvestigated for a year. Some patients and front-line workers involved in the cases alleged cover-ups.
Parkland adamantly disagrees. “To suggest that there has been a systemic or even inadvertent effort to suppress or overlook incidents of alleged assault at Parkland is to suggest a falsehood,” hospital leaders said in their Jan. 22 statement to The News.
Parkland Feb. 1, 2013 email statement to “opinion leaders and media” Parkland stressed that the Rodriguez case was “discussed with the Dallas County district attorney’s office.” It did not mention that the discussion occurred in December, nearly two years after the rape report. Parkland police officials met with prosecutors only after The News asked the district attorney’s office whether it had been consulted about any of the accused caregivers. It had not, and the DA’s office did not do any official investigations, its spokeswoman Debbie Denmon said.
Parkland’s statement also said the hospital now asks the district attorney’s office to review every sexual assault allegation, “regardless of whether the police believe it is substantiated.”
The investigative records that Parkland released last month show that detectives took logical steps in several cases and amply documented reasons for dropping them. For example, some accusers made vague, shifting allegations, and some seemed delirious.
But other cases were closed with little or no investigation, deemed to be medical procedures or bathing assistance that patients misunderstood. In the four cases about which The News had already pieced together the most information, the newly released investigative records raised further questions about police conduct.
PARKLAND AND CMS
Mike Malaise, senior vice president/external affairs, Parkland Memorial Hospital, in a Feb. 1 statement:
“In the normal course of regulatory oversight, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Texas State Department of Health Services investigate incidents such as those under review by the Morning News. In reviewing some of these cases, those agencies did find deficiencies in reporting, documentation or procedures surrounding the incidents. At no time did those agencies suggest that police handling of the incidents was insufficient or inappropriate.”
David Wright, deputy regional administrator, U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in an email response to The News later that day:
“We have neither the authority nor expertise to review the adequacy of law enforcement investigations from any jurisdiction. Our investigations focus solely on the hospital’s compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation.” The Parkland statement did not address questions asked of hospital leaders: How many sexual abuse cases have come to light recently, since the newspaper last sought police records under the Public Information Act? What were the allegations? How did Parkland respond?
There has been at least one new case, the newspaper learned. Government regulators found in December that a psychiatric aide had been inappropriately touching a patient. Hospital police filed no charges.
These are the first accounts to emerge alleging deliberate mistreatment at Parkland, which collects about $425 million annually from Dallas County taxpayers. The News’ three-year investigation of the hospital previously documented harm stemming from error, under-staffing, lax supervision or, occasionally, psychiatric aides’ violent reaction to combative patients.
U.S. health officials intervened in 2011, putting Parkland under a rare form of probation that could force it to close unless systemic change is documented in the next three months. Federal monitors have reported significant progress by the hospital in some areas as well as ongoing patient-safety breakdowns. They have said nothing publicly about possible crimes committed by caregivers.
In late 2011, when the newspaper began researching sexual abuse allegations, Parkland said there had been 15 such complaints against employees in the previous four years. Abuse, as defined by Parkland, ranges from verbal or visual sexual harassment to rape — it’s “anything that forces a person into unwanted sexual contact or attention.”
Police substantiated no wrongdoing in 13 of the 15 cases, said Dr. Thomas Royer, who was Parkland’s interim chief executive at the time. The other two “were found to be assaults but not sexual,” he added. “Those people have been dealt with through the HR process.”
Records show that in one of those cases, the suspect was not a caregiver but a patient. In the other case, Parkland police accused a nurse aide of improperly touching a patient near her genitals and ticketed the man in 2011 for Class C misdemeanor assault. He was fined the maximum $500 penalty by a justice of the peace.
It’s a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally or knowingly make offensive physical contact with people who are “substantially unable” to protect themselves because of disease or injury, Austin criminal justice expert Eric Nichols said. It’s a first-degree felony if such contact causes serious mental or physical injury to a disabled person.
Three women recall their suffering at the hands of Manuel Rodriguez, a nurse aide accused of raping a patient at Parkland Memorial Hospital. In general, such misconduct “is judged very harshly by jurors and members of the community,” said Nichols, a former federal prosecutor and former Texas deputy attorney general. The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is a year in jail. The maximum for a first-degree felony is life in prison.
The aide resigned from Parkland — which failed, as it did in the Rodriguez case, to make a required report to regulators.
There’s no good way to compare the number of abuse cases at Parkland to those at other hospitals, most of which are private. In Dallas County, the DA’s office says it does not keep statistics on the types of cases filed by different police departments.
But sexual abuse of patients has been documented around the country since at least the 1970s. And predators in health-care settings, experts say, are the same as predators everywhere: They choose victims who are particularly vulnerable — physically or mentally or because their credibility can be questioned. They take advantage of institutions with a culture “of not paying attention,” said Boston College nursing professor Ann Wolbert Burgess, who co-edited a textbook on patient exploitation.
Patients are doubly vulnerable, she said. Predators have extraordinary access to their bodies. Hospital managers may assume that accusers — because of illness or medication — imagined or misunderstood a caregiver’s actions.
Burgess, a consultant on patient-abuse issues, said criminal prosecutions can be difficult or impossible because of limited evidence and victims’ disabilities. Another reason “is the hospital does not want negative publicity.”
Courtney Underwood Newsome, the Dallas area’s most prominent advocate for sex-crime victims, reviewed Parkland records obtained by The News and said she could not believe all the cases were unfounded. She cited research showing that most sexual abuse allegations are never reported to police and, of those that are, fewer than 10 percent are false.
“They [Parkland] are fighting to survive,” Underwood Newsome said, “and no one wants to see them fail.” But “there appears to be an egregious lack of action,” one that will “lead people to question what, in addition to criminal behavior, is being swept under the rug.”
Underwood Newsome co-founded the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center and has led efforts to expand the number of hospitals offering victims full forensic examinations, which seek evidence such as an attacker’s bodily fluids. Until 2010, Parkland was the only place in Dallas County providing this service.
She questioned whether Parkland police should handle serious criminal allegations against their fellow employees. “There is always going to be a question regarding the conflict of interest,” she said.
In-house police forces like Parkland’s also face questions about whether they have the time and expertise for specialized investigations, former Dallas Police Chief Ben Click said. There are times when they should ask for outside help but don’t, he said, because “egos come into play.”
State records say Parkland has 59 licensed officers — more than some Dallas suburbs, such as Highland Park and University Park. The hospital’s force includes one veteran officer with his own history of sexual misconduct: Duane Stubbe, who served deferred-adjudication probation for exposing himself to a Collin County girl.
Parkland officials acknowledged knowing about Stubbe’s misdemeanor criminal case. Separately, they have praised their police department for preventing sex crime. In 2009, a magazine for Parkland employees said officers monitor “potentially dangerous individuals” who have medical appointments.
“Whether you’re running errands or going to your grocery store, predators can be anywhere,” the magazine quoted Lt. Rick Roebuck as saying. “I’m glad that at least while they’re here, we can make sure Parkland remains safe.”
Fred Price, who retired as a Parkland detective in 2005, said his fellow officers were generally “sincere.” But “you just knew you walked on eggshells” when investigating insiders.
Co-workers “would definitely try to cover up” for each other, said Price, who’s now a Dallas County courtroom bailiff. And management “would always believe any employee, especially a doctor, over any policeman.”
Here’s how Manuel Rodriguez got a nurse aide job in 2010 on Parkland’s eighth-floor neurology unit, according to hospital records:
He made the lowest possible passing score on a basic math test. No one else was considered for the position. Another male aide was in the process of being terminated — after being accused, for the third time in three years, of sexually abusing female patients.
Rodriguez’s personnel file shows no sign that he underwent a background check or provided any work history. He was 53 at the time and, after a career as a printer, had just spent a few weeks training at Parkland to become a certified aide.
His boss tried to fire him within 90 days, citing emails in which he complained about understaffing and accused nurses of not helping patients who’d lost control of their bowels. “Our unit’s patients and staff do not need an employee such as this,” the boss wrote to a personnel official. “I made a poor decision in hiring him.”
For reasons not explained in the personnel file, Rodriguez kept his job. And, in March 2011, the disabled grandmother was delivered to his care after fainting at a workers’ compensation hearing. A conveyor belt injury had left her in chronic pain and largely unable to use the right side of her body, including her dominant right hand. She lost her job, car, home and ability to live independently.
Rodriguez was her most helpful caregiver at first. “He brought me blankets,” said the woman, who is in her mid-50s. “He gave me a lot of attention.”
But the aide soon began to seem too familiar with his hands, “using lots of talcum powder.” And late one night, after she’d been in Parkland about a week, “he said he was going to give me a bath, and I told him, no, I didn’t want to.”
“He dragged me to the bathroom,” the woman told The News. Then, through sobs, she described how she refused when he “tried to put his thing in my mouth,” and how he went on to pin her down in bed and vaginally rape her.
Afterward, she said, he cleaned their genitals and put her bed sheets in the linen drop.
Police records say the woman tried to cry out during the attack but couldn’t make much noise, both because of her medical condition and because Rodriguez put his hand over her mouth. She remembered being restrained by terror, too: Rodriguez, she said, showed her that he had access to her medical records, so he knew where she lived with relatives. A Parkland detective verified that Rodriguez had looked up her address in the computer, a police report says.
“He threatened to kill not just me but them,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
So at first, she told no one. Doctors sent her for therapy related to her workplace injury at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Zale Lipshy hospital, next door to Parkland. There, she said, she finally felt safe enough to tell an employee what Rodriguez had done.
A Parkland police officer was summoned to her Zale room. It was the afternoon of March 29, 2011 — six days after the alleged rape, according to a Parkland police report.
KYE R. LEE/The Dallas Morning News
A disabled Dallas woman says she was raped last year by Manuel Rodriguez, a nurse aide at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Parkland fired the man, but its police force filed no charges. The woman’s daughter was present when a hospital police officer first responded to the rape complaint and described him as ‘really rude.’ She tried to get help from Dallas police instead, to no avail.“The policeman was really rude,” recalled one of the woman’s daughters, who was present for the interview. He raised his voice repeatedly, she said, demanding to know “why didn’t she say anything before.”
The daughter told him she was going to contact the Dallas Police Department, “and he said there’s no point in calling them because they have no jurisdiction over us.” She later called anyway and found out that Parkland was, indeed, a law force unto itself. DPD says it gets involved only if it responds first to a major crime in progress or if Parkland seeks help.
Hospital police did not immediately arrange for a physical examination of the woman, ask her to undergo a rape exam or refer her to a counselor. At the daughter’s insistence, Parkland agreed to see the woman two days after she reported being raped.
Two Parkland officers escorted her from Zale back to their hospital to have a rape exam done, police records say. But a Parkland nurse told them that “because of the extended time that had elapsed, the test could not be performed.” The hospital did test her for possible exposure to sexual diseases.
In its statement to The News, Parkland said a rape exam “only has clinical or evidentiary value within 96 hours after an alleged assault.” Underwood Newsome, the Rape Crisis Center’s co-founder, called that claim “completely unfounded.”
Texas law says police must request a rape exam when an accuser comes forward within 96 hours; after that, “the law enforcement agency may request” one. Experts say it often makes sense to perform rape exams beyond 96 hours, especially if the accuser, like the one in this case, has had limited physical activity.
“It is important to remember that evidence collection beyond the cutoff point is conceivable and may be warranted in particular cases,” says an evidence protocol published by the U.S. Justice Department.
A basic physical examination “should be performed in all cases of sexual assault, regardless of the length of time which may have elapsed,” says a Texas attorney general’s protocol. One reason is to check for internal injuries. Also, “evidence may still be gathered” — for example, by taking photographs of bruises.
While waiting for the two officers at Zale, the grandmother’s room phone rang. It was Rodriguez, taunting that he had been to court before and “nothing happened to him that time either,” a UTSW police report quoted the woman as saying. In the same call, she told The News, he also made the sound of a gun.
Nurses moved her to a different room and put her on the “no info” list, preventing anyone from knowing where she was unless she told them. She spoke with a Parkland counselor, whose notes describe her as tearful, fearful and intensely depressed.
Bruises on a Parkland patient’s arm, photographed in 2011 at a Parkland counseling center two weeks after the victim was allegedly raped by Parkland nurse aide Manuel Rodriguez. The photo comes from her medical records.“Don’t leave me,” she begged the counselor. “I feel like I’m dying.”
Parkland suspended Rodriguez the following day, April 1. On April 2, according to UTSW police records, he showed up at Zale, apparently unaware she had already been discharged. Dressed in street clothes and a white ball cap, he asked to see the woman and gave nurses his name. They refused to help him and alerted police, but Rodriguez left before officers arrived.
Marsha Newberry, who is a friend of Rodriguez’s and one of his ex-wives, said he called her about the suspension. He denied wrongdoing, described the patient as “crazy” and said “she claimed that he was trying to track her down in another building. He was like, ‘I’ve never even been in that building.’”
One example Rodriguez gave of the patient’s behavior: “She would just, like, not have any clothes on and open up the sheets and try to pull him down on her, and he was like, ‘I can’t do this. I’m here to take care of you.’” According to Newberry, Rodriguez said he also received a love letter from the patient but didn’t show it to anyone before destroying it.
Rodriguez, who has never been convicted of a crime, declined an interview request. He referred The News to his longtime lawyer, Dennis Croman, who said the patient had “mental problems” and might not be “altogether competent.” He did not elaborate.
For months before her hospitalization, the woman was treated by a psychiatrist at Parkland’s outpatient Victim Intervention Program. He diagnosed her with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, including nightmares and flashbacks, which he said stemmed from her work injury, disability and pain. He saw her again on April 7 and noted that she was “distraught” because of a sexual assault at Parkland that had “significantly exacerbated symptoms.”
Other therapists who later saw the woman briefly offered varying diagnoses, according to her medical records, which she let The News review. One said she talked about a childhood belief in “aliens.” Another said she described elaborate visions, but he thought she was faking mental and physical symptoms for financial gain. The woman told The News that doctors, generally working through translators, had asked her to visualize as part of stress-reduction therapy. She said she knew the difference between the imaginary and the reality of rape.
During the April 7 visit, Victim Intervention Program staff took photographs of the woman in a wheelchair — the only photos that appear in medical records she’s been able to obtain. Two weeks had passed since the alleged rape, but bruises were still visible on her calves and upper arms. Parkland also gave her a brochure from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault that explains how vulnerable the disabled are to sexual abuse. The association offers a similar pamphlet for police that urges patience with the disabled, who are often reluctant to report abuse for fear of losing health care and may be “considered less credible.”
On April 8, intervention program staff contacted the detective assigned to the woman’s case. The detective wrote a report saying that she learned two things from the call: “The patient was being treated for a work-related shoulder injury that was traumatic,” and had previously been sexually assaulted without reporting it to police. There is no mention of her bruises in this report or any other police records released by Parkland.
The detective, Darlene Griffin, closed the case that day. “We have no physical evidence to support a sexual assault against the victim,” she wrote.
“Investigation believes that there are inconsistencies with the statement of the patient,” she added. “However, investigation cannot conclude that an offense did not occur.”
Griffin’s report gave no examples of inconsistencies and made no reference to the patient’s mental status. The News, in hours of interviews with the patient over several months, detected no inconsistencies. It found no sign in her medical records that caregivers doubted the truthfulness of her rape report.
The newspaper did find, deep in a box of her personal papers, hospital menus from the day after the alleged rape. “I am dirty,” says a note she scrawled near references to peach halves and grilled chicken breast. The note curses Rodriguez by name and adds, “He raped me.”
Griffin’s report noted that Rodriguez, during the week of the alleged rape, had accessed personal contact information for another of his female patients. He called her after she was discharged and said he was sorry “he couldn’t help her with her bath,” the report says.
An unsigned memo dated April 12 told Rodriguez to return to duty. “Although the allegations were determined to be unfounded, you are strongly cautioned to exercise prudent judgment so similar situations are avoided,” his boss wrote. “However, should we substantiate any of these allegations in the future or continue to receive additional complaints, further corrective action may be taken not to exclude termination.”
That week, the neurology boss also drafted a memo for all of her staff. It decreed that aides could no longer care for patients of the opposite sex unless another caregiver was present.
A nursing administrator responded by noting that problems could also arise when caregivers worked alone with patients of the same gender. Parkland’s patient relations department, the administrator wrote, “is currently investigating a complaint by a male patient against a male provider regarding inappropriate touching.”
Rodriguez was fired in late April, ending an 11-month tenure at Parkland. Records released by the hospital do not detail reasons for the firing beyond his “unsatisfactory” job performance.
“He said something about how they fired him because he wouldn’t write down a statement” admitting he violated a procedure, Newberry said. He told her he refused because “I did everything I was supposed to do.”
She said he was “heartbroken.” “He was just like, ‘I cannot believe I’ve lost my job because of some stupid woman.’”
Croman, Rodriguez’s lawyer, said he talked with two Parkland detectives during the criminal investigation.
“We tried to cooperate with them and give them what information we knew,” Croman said. “They just determined that it wasn’t worth pursuing.”
The detective’s report contradicts this. “The suspect has been non-cooperative,” Griffin wrote. “Investigation did not receive communication from the suspect attorney.”
The International Association of Chiefs of Police says sexual assault investigations should be treated not as “he said, she said” cases, but as “he said, they said” matters. Detectives should look for a pattern of unreported crimes “by interviewing the suspect’s social circles, current and former partners,” says the association’s list of recommended best practices.
OTHER PARKLAND ACCUSATIONS Here are other examples of sexual abuse allegations against Parkland Memorial Hospital caregivers. Parkland’s police force filed charges only in the first case.
Position: Nurse aide
Background: He told Parkland that he worked as a nurse in Iraq and as a translator for U.S. military officials.
Tenure at Parkland: Seven months in 2010-11
Accusations: In January 2011, a patient accused him of groping her breast and pubic areas “more than once.”
His response: He denied wrongdoing to Parkland police and The Dallas Morning News. He told the newspaper that a vindictive co-worker manufactured the accusations. According to police records, he admitted touching the patient’s abdomen and head without consent. He said he was trying to help her with pain. An aide’s duties don’t include treatment.
Outcome: Hasan quit his job. Parkland police later charged him with Class C misdemeanor assault. He was convicted in a justice of the peace court and assessed the maximum penalty: a $500 fine.
Today: Parkland did not make a required report to regulators. Hasan avoided being put on the state’s list of aides who are unemployable because of abuse. He said he is no longer working in health care.
Position: Neurology unit nurse aide
Background: He told Parkland that he studied to be a mechanic in the West African nation of Liberia before becoming a certified aide in Texas.
Tenure at Parkland: 2007-10
Accusations: He put his hand in a patient’s vagina while bathing her in 2010. “This is the third complaint received for the same type of behavior,” Parkland told him.
His response: “All of it was investigated and employee was found not guilty,” he wrote to his superiors. Sarmie reiterated these denials in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. Male aides, he said, are vulnerable to false accusations when assigned to female patients who need assistance with bathing and dressing.
Outcome: He was fired for “repetitive at risk behavior/reckless conduct that jeopardizes the life and/or welfare of another individual.”
Today: He lives in Rhode Island and said he is working as a nurse aide.
Position: Intensive care unit nurse
Background: His resume says he worked as a physician in his native Philippines before getting a U.S. nursing degree in 2008.
Tenure at Parkland: 2008-12
Accusations: In January 2012, a patient said, Tabada woke her in the middle of the night, while she was intubated, for bathing. “I felt a pinch on my nipple,” she told the nurse’s supervisor. Then he “started to rub my back” with a hot towel and “had his hand on my pubic area.” The patient added that she’d never been bathed by a male nurse before.
His response: Tabada and an aide, who helped with the bathing, denied wrongdoing to Parkland. He reiterated that denial to The News. Having female caregivers bathe female patients “might be the best scenario,” he added. But “sometimes it’s just not practical” given Parkland’s “heavy load” of patients.
Outcome: Both caregivers returned to work after a one-day investigation by Parkland police. A psychiatrist said the patient’s allegations were “likely due to delirium given that she was on propofol,” a sedative and hypnotic agent. Tabada told The News he agreed to take a polygraph test, but police “didn’t pursue it.”
Today:Parkland fired Tabada in July 2012 for seizing an emergency-call button from another ICU patient. He said the patient was repeatedly demanding painkillers ahead of schedule, disrupting care of others in the short-staffed unit. “I made a mistake,” Tabada told Parkland. He still has his Texas nursing license and would not say whether he is currently working as a caregiver elsewhere.
Because Parkland withheld or blacked out large portions of many records, it’s impossible to identify most of the other accused caregivers and their jobs. Here are examples of patients’ accusations and how hospital police responded:
December 2010, second floor: A caregiver performed an invasive exam without consent. The patient grabbed the caregiver’s hand “and pulled it out.” Records released by Parkland show no sign that any police investigation resulted. Ten months later, the supervisor of criminal investigations created a report that declared, without elaboration: “This was a medical procedure not an assault.”
February 2012, emergency room: A clothed caregiver pressed his erect penis into the patient’s genital area during an exam. The patient was upset and terminated the exam. Here’s why a Parkland detective said he closed the case as unfounded: The caregiver “would have to slouch or get on his knees” to do what he was accused of, and the patient said he was standing.
March 2012, emergency room: A caregiver “fondled the nipple on her left breast three different times” while attaching testing equipment to her chest. The caregiver denied touching any part of the breast. Both parties agreed to take a polygraph. “After interviewing both parties and polygraphing one, we came to the conclusion that there was no assault,” a detective wrote. “The polygraph showed there was no deception.”
SOURCE: Parkland police and personnel records; Dallas Morning News research. Records released by Parkland don’t show whether its police followed this advice. But The News found a pattern of abuse allegations in Rodriguez’s past and support for what he allegedly told the disabled grandmother — that he’d been to court before.
Oralia “Lala” Boatright, a divorced mother of two, lived with Rodriguez in the early 1990s, in his hometown of Irving. Police there arrested him twice after she accused him of assault.
In 1991, according to a police report, he grabbed her by the throat when she tried to leave him. An officer took him to jail after she said she “was afraid if the police left, the assault would continue.” Municipal court records show the case was dismissed but don’t say why.
A 1992 police report said he pinned her down on a bed with his knees to keep her from leaving home, then pushed her into a glass table. Hospital records say she received treatment for a gash near her right eye, in the company of an unidentified man.
That man was Rodriguez, Boatright told The News. She recalled a nurse asking whether she’d been assaulted and being so afraid that she claimed it was just an accident. Three days later, after moving out of his house for good, she gave police a written statement. It said he had previously held her at gunpoint.
“He kept an old antique shotgun that his dad gave him behind the bedroom door,” Boatright said in an interview. “He pointed it at me and says, ‘You’re not going anywhere. Do you understand?’” Her response: “OK, OK, I promise. Don’t do anything — my son’s in the next room.”
She said he put the gun down and taunted her: “I broke you, didn’t I?”
Police deemed the 1992 case serious enough to send to the district attorney’s office for prosecution. A judge found Rodriguez innocent, for reasons that county records don’t explain. Boatright said she didn’t know the case went to trial, because she went into hiding and didn’t leave a forwarding address.
Rodriguez called Boatright a “maniac” who deliberately injured herself, according to his friend Newberry. “She told him she was going to get him put away” and “jumped into the glass coffee table,” Newberry said, recounting his story. “He said, ‘I didn’t touch the girl.’”
Newberry was married to Rodriguez for about eight years. When filing for divorce in 2004, she accused him of cruelty and adultery. The cruelty, she told The News, was strictly verbal. “He was never physical with me.”
Rodriguez was briefly married in the mid-1990s to Sandy Jackson, who accused him of harassment while their divorce was pending. When she contacted Irving police, she said he had called her about 25 times that day and knocked on her door, trying to get her to move back in with him.
An officer told him to leave Jackson alone, according to police records, prompting Rodriguez to reply: “But I want to talk to her.” He agreed to stop bothering her but did not, records say. Police then referred the matter to the city attorney, but Irving officials recently said there was no record of prosecution.
Jackson told officers that Rodriguez “was violent towards her during their marriage,” but she did not call police then. She told The News that she feared complaining would lead to more violence and that she spoke up only after securing a place of her own.
“One time I thought I was going to end up in the bottom of Grapevine Lake because he hit me so hard,” Jackson said in an interview. They were in his sailboat, she explained, and he was barking orders while doing no work. When she protested, “he hit me right on the pelvic bone,” and “half my body went over the railing.”
Jackson said Rodriguez sometimes bragged that his common names and lack of a middle name made him hard to track. “He was very bold about that,” she said. “He would just tell me, ‘How the hell is anybody ever going to catch up to me?’”
The News learned of the Parkland rape allegation in late 2011, about eight months after it was made. The newspaper sought information from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which licenses hospitals and which Parkland should have notified within 48 hours.
DSHS said it had never been notified and began investigating. It isn’t clear what steps the state agency took, but it did not interview Rodriguez and found no fault with Parkland.
Agency spokeswoman Carrie Williams said she could not discuss investigative details. But in general, she said, Parkland’s past failures to report abuse allegations made it difficult for DSHS to determine what happened and contributed to the agency’s decision to fine the hospital a record $1 million last year.
“They really protect the workers there,” Rodriguez’s accuser said of Parkland. “And the patients, where does that leave us? In their hands, where they can do what they want.”
Rodriguez went to work in early 2012 for a home-health firm based in Arlington. Officials there said he wanted more work than was available and quit after a few months. He gave no notice, they said, and simply failed to show up at a home where a patient was waiting for help.
Since then, he has been working for Hospice Plus, a Dallas-based company that cares for the terminally ill. Its chief executive, Dr. Bryan White, said he knew of no problems with Rodriguez. He declined to comment on whether the company received information from Parkland about the aide. “We followed our policies and procedures,” White added.
The Parkland patient who accused Rodriguez began to cry when told of his hospice work. She said she suspects the hospital views her as someone who just wants money.
“I don’t want money. I don’t want any of that. I want justice,” she said, sobbing. “I want justice so this doesn’t keep happening to so many other women.”
Police officer remains on Parkland’s force after sexual misconduct findings
He served probation for indecent exposure and was later fired, but the hospital hired him back.
By BROOKS EGERTON
Parkland Memorial Hospital police officials promoted Officer Duane Stubbe after his first incident of sexual misconduct. They warned him after the second. They fired him after the third.
And two months later, they gave him back his gun, badge and previous salary. He remains on Parkland’s police force today, enforcing the law at primary-care clinics.
The troubles date to 1996, when Stubbe was arrested for being naked in front of three middle-school girls during a slumber party at his home. In 1998, he was found not guilty on two misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and agreed to plead no contest to a third. A Collin County judge put him on six months of deferred-adjudication probation.
Parkland Memorial Hospital
Duane Mark Stubbe, a longtime Parkland Hospital police officer, is shown in a 1998 booking photo from Collin County. He was arrested in 1996 for indecent exposure, and again in 1998 for a probation violation.Stubbe was required to leave home, undergo sex-offender treatment and submit to polygraph testing. When tested, he “failed when asked his sexual intent during the commission of the offense,” court records say.
Prosecutors sought to revoke his probation. Stubbe sought to withdraw his plea, claiming he hadn’t understood its consequences or the evidence against him. He had always “maintained his innocence,” his lawyer argued.
A judge rejected both efforts in early 1999. Stubbe completed probation with no conviction record.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education then moved to suspend Stubbe’s license. It got a late start because Stubbe had failed to make a required report of his arrest; he didn’t disclose the criminal case until after his probation began.
Parkland intervened on the officer’s behalf. Kenneth Cheatle — then his lieutenant and now Parkland’s police chief — wrote a letter praising Stubbe. So did CaSandra Williams, who was assistant chief at the time and now heads the police department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
Smith Lawrence, then Parkland’s chief and now retired, went to Austin and testified before an administrative law judge. He said he’d recently promoted Stubbe to a supervisory job “entirely based on merit.” The officer “enjoys the support of both his superiors and peers.”
The three supervisors did not respond to requests for comment.
Stubbe, who declined to comment for this story, also testified in Austin and gave this version of what happened at the slumber party: He was sleeping naked and unaware of the sleepover when a noise from his stepdaughter’s room woke him. He went to investigate, opened her door and saw the girls. “He immediately closed the door,” he said, and two of the three girls did not see him nude.
But two of the girls, who are now young women, told The Dallas Morning News that they did see full frontal nudity. They said Stubbe entered the room naked, told the girls to quiet down and then briefly lingered there. The two did not testify in Austin.
Parkland Memorial Hospital
Image from the Parkland Hospital newsletter, released in Sept. 2012, showing Officer Duane Stubbe, a member of Parkland Memorial Hospital’s police force, who has his own history of sex crime: He was sentenced to six months of probation in 1998 for indecent exposure, and state regulators later suspended his officer’s license. Stubbe has worked as an officer for the hospital since 1994.In his testimony, Stubbe said “he has learned his lesson and is truly remorseful,” the administrative judge wrote. The police officer said suspension would cost him his job and hurt his family.
It would also hurt Parkland, Stubbe asserted, because he was the hospital police force’s only member specially trained to deal with mentally ill people.
The law enforcement commission agreed to a six-month probated suspension, which began in early 2000 and allowed Stubbe to keep working.
By late 2000, he was in trouble again. Parkland supervisors cited Stubbe for refusing to help a patient who’d lost her purse. And in early 2001, he was written up for failures including an “unsatisfactory” report on the use of force and not telling the Secret Service when a psychiatric patient threatened President-elect George W. Bush.
Stubbe received a “final warning” in April 2001, for sexually harassing another officer. He grabbed the man, according to personnel records, and made comments such as “You need to quit looking at me like you want me to … [expletive] you.”
The records show that Stubbe was fired the following month for similar sexual comments. He told a fellow supervisor, for example, “I’ll do it if you [perform oral sex on me].”
Termination paperwork also cited “inappropriate incidents” with his Parkland-issued gun, such as taking it out during a meeting, sliding it across a table and telling a subordinate, “You shoot him.”
There is no sign in records Parkland released that Stubbe denied doing any of these things. Nor is there any explanation for why, two months after his firing, he was rehired. He appealed his firing, the hospital said in a statement to The News, and Lawrence “agreed to allow him back onto the police force.”
Stubbe, 48, has received excellent evaluations in recent years.
That is little consolation to the two young women who attended the slumber party. Both said they were upset to learn that Stubbe was still working as a police officer. One said she worked in health care and had considered getting additional training at Parkland.
Now, she said, she’s afraid to go there. “You don’t know you’re safe.”