H-SANTA BARBARA

Sep 25, 2013 8:15 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Sexual assault lawsuits filed on Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital

Two sexual assault lawsuits have been filed against Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital in Santa Barbara. Two women who were patients there claim they were sexually assaulted by the same male nursing assistant. Both women made statements at a press conference in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. To protect their identities, the women are referred to as Z.T. and Sara. "I was repeatedly sexually abused by that man," said Sara. Sara and Z.T. gave emotional accounts of what they say happened to them when they were patients. Z.T.checked into the facility in January 2011 after suffering a brain injury that left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. She says Jose Carrillo was assigned to help bathe her. "When he was victimizing me, he would squirt water in my face and I truly believe that was to keep me from screaming so no one would hear me in the shower," said Z.T. One year earlier, Sara had a stroke that also paralyzed one side of her body and was admitted into the rehabilitation center. She says Carrillo also sexually assaulted her when he was bathing her. "When I couldn't take it anymore, I told on him," said Z.T. According to the lawsuit, Sara reported the assaults to hospital officials several times, but was told not to tell authorities about the abuse and assured her it would be investigated. "They tried to convince me that I was crazy and that I was confabulating and making stuff up," said Sara. The documents say Z.T. also came forward a year later about the allegations and was told it would be resolved and that she should move on with her life. In June 2012, the complaint says Z.T. learned from the Santa Barbara Police Department that the hospital never reported the assaults to police. The lawsuit says Carrillo was arrested by the Santa Barbara Police Department in October 2012. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley says he was not charged. A statement from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital says, "All of us who work at Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital and Cottage Health System are very concerned by the allegations contained in these lawsuits. We want our community to know that we take this matter very seriously. We care deeply for the health and well-being of our current and former patients. Patient safety and quality of care are our foremost priorities. We feel great pride in the reputation that our physicians, nurses and staff have built over many decades for providing compassionate patient care and medical excellence to hundreds of thousands of members of our community. We remain committed to providing the highest quality care to every patient who comes to us for treatment." Hospital officials say Carrillo is no longer an employee of the hospital.

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