PHOENIX (CN) - In 15 months there were 28 reports of sexual assault inside the Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix, but the hospital reported only three of them to police, a Scripps TV station claims in a public records complaint.
Scripps Media Inc. dba KNXV-TV sued the Arizona Department of Health Services, its director Will Humble, and the Arizona State Hospital, on Aug. 6 in Maricopa County Court.
The TV station submitted a public records request on Aug. 13, 2013, reports and findings for sexual assaults in the hospital. It claims the hospital repeatedly denied and delayed any response.
"The limited records released by ASH to date raise significant questions about the hospital's handling of sexual assault cases," the complaint states. "The records show that from January 2012 to March 2013, there were 28 incidents at the hospital involving sexual assault allegations. Although ASH policy requires the hospital to report sexual assault allegations to police, records show the hospital contacted the Phoenix Police Department only three times during the 15-month period."
The complaint continues: "Moreover, according to a July 18,2012 notice of claim filed by a former ASH investigations supervisor, Vicki Fox, hospital officials altered investigative reports to protect certain employees and cover up allegations.
Specifically, Fox alleged hospital COO Donna Noriega 'was covering up for individuals who she liked as employees in her reports or editing of reports prepared by Ms. Fox, deleting information out of the final investigative report at her choosing to diminish
[ ] their responsibility in matters where patients had filed complaints against employees she liked - all to keep the hospital out of trouble and protect employees from appropriate discipline." (Empty brackets in complaint.)
The TV station says the public has "an acute interest in the records," which are, or should be, public, and that "the public interest is especially strong here because the records involve crimes committed against patients in the care of ASH."
The TV station wants to see the records.
It is represented by David Bodney, with Ballard & Spahr.