A former nursing assistant at a San Fernando Valley hospital who fled the country as sexual assault charges were mounting against him was located in Guatemala after an 11-year search, officials announced Wednesday.
Eduardo Ramon Rodas Gaspar was previously arrested in 2006 and was out on bail when he disappeared with his wife and son after additional charges were announced against him that same year, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
A decade-long manhunt ensued, and on June 26 he was arrested again after being transported back to Los Angeles from his native Guatemala, police said.
Gaspar had been working as a certified nursing assistant at Tarzana Hospital about two years when, in June 2006, LAPD detectives began investigating allegations by former patients that he had sexually assaulted them.
Three alleged victims, whose ages ranged from 29 to 64 years old, all claimed he assaulted them while they were recovering from surgery in their hospital rooms, according to a press release issued by police at the time. Some described still being under the influence of anesthesia as they were molested, police said Wednesday.
Gaspar, then 37, went with his lawyer to turn himself in at the Van Nuys courthouse on June 15, 2006, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office subsequently charged him with three counts of sexual assault, but the next month, on July 7, detectives announced they were seeking additional victims in the case.
Several additional former Tarzana Hospital patients then came forward claiming they had been sexually assaulted by Gaspar and described similar experiences to the existing victims, police said.
District Attorney’s officials filed seven additional felony counts, at which point Gaspar skipped bail and disappeared with his wife and son, who was 6 years old at the time.
A high-profile manhunt that was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” ensued, and detectives learned the former hospital employe had fled to Guatemala, where he was born, investigators said.
But pinpointing Gaspar within the country would take years. It’s not clear exactly how or when officials caught up with him, but District Attorney’s officials issued a foreign extradition warrant for Gaspar once he was located.
Investigators were expected to release additional details about the case on Thursday.