Two lawsuits have been filed against Stanford Health Care alleging the hospital promoted a toxic environment that prevented workers from reporting sexual abuse of sedated patients, even when the crimes happened right before their eyes.
A recent assault at the Redwood City outpatient center involved a 16-year-old boy. The man who preyed on the teen was sentenced to a year in jail and already has been behind bars for a few months.
Now, two new lawsuits are shifting the spotlight onto the man's employer. One of the suits has been filed by the teen’s mother, who did not wish to be identified to protect her son.
She said she has no other option but to sue after she discovered anesthesia technician Robert Lastinger had molested her son when he was sedated for surgery.
"You know, I sent him to Stanford because I knew it was a good hospital," the victim's mother said.
Even worse, she said it could have been prevented.
In May, Lastinger was convicted of sexual battery in a case involving four victims. One of those assaults occurred in March 2015, 11 days before the 16-year-old boy was assaulted.
Attorney Paul Matiasic represents both victims.
"We believe Stanford Health Care was negligent in hiring this sexual predator and negligent in giving him an environment in which he could prey," Matiasic said.
The lawsuit claims that nurses witnessed Lastinger sexually abusing patients under anesthesia but didnt report it. One nurse indicated it was "well known that Lastinger "liked to fiddle with male patients’ private parts" and that Stanford Health Care "knew or had reason to know that Lastinger had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with individuals at the premise in the days, weeks, months and years prior to March 31, 2015."
The second lawsuit was filed by a former manager at the hospital, George Baez, who claims he was forced out about a year after he spoke up about the abuse and helped fire Lastinger.
Baez's attorney, Angela Alioto, said the suits will help push for a climate change at Stanford Health Care.
The hospital issued a statement responding to the suits, saying in part "there are extensive inaccuracies ... any claim that Stanford Health Care knew that Robert Lastinger was a predator and did nothing is false."
But the victim's mother isn’t satisfied.
"They just want to cover their tracks and not be at fault, make light of a situation that shouldn't be taken lightly," she said.
Here is the full Stanford Health Care statement in response to the allegations:
"Stanford Health Care is aware of the two civil complaints filed, but the lawyers did not give us a copy of the formal complaint. Based on what we have seen of the lawyers’ allegations, there are extensive inaccuracies, and we are particularly distressed about the personal attacks leveled in the Baez complaint. Any claim that SHC knew that Robert Lastinger was a predator and did nothing is false. SHC will vigorously defend against these allegations.
"The health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff are top priorities at Stanford Health Care. While it is not appropriate to comment about the details of an individual employee’s termination, we can unequivocally state that Mr. Baez’s termination had nothing to do with his minor involvement with any hospital investigation. It is undisputed that as soon as SHC learned of the allegations of inappropriate conduct by one of our anesthesia technicians, SHC removed the employee, launched an internal investigation and contacted local authorities per our protocols."