Two women addressed the public during a press conference on Thursday after a former San Fernando Valley nursing assistant was extradited from Guatemala in connection with the 2006 assaults of multiple women.
Courtney R. and Anna B. were post-surgery patients at Tarzana Hospital more than ten years ago when Ramón Eduardo Rodas Gaspar allegedly sexually assaulted them, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Gaspar, then 37, was arrested and charged with three felony counts of sexual assault but skipped bail and fled the country with his wife and young son. 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.
Courtney, who had never been in a hospital before, was the first of 12 women to come forward, according to police. She believed Gaspar was checking if she knew the boundaries of his job before allegedly assaulting her.
“I was brought in for emergency surgery and I was actually supposed to go home and I was not okay, so they decided to hospitalize me for one night. The next morning he came on shift and was responsible for my care,” said Courtney. “He spent time to trying to see what I knew, as far as do I know what his job titles are and his responsibilities versus a RN or a LVN.”
She added that she believed Gaspar was trustworthy because he was a licensed medical professional.
“You know I was sick, I was in pain; he had scrubs on, he had a badge so you know the things he was doing made sense at that time. Until finally, upon discharge, is when he actually committed the sexual assault. I realized what had happen and I went to the LAPD,” said Courtney.
“Honestly, I was in shock after. When I went home, every time I closed my eyes I kept seeing his face and it wouldn’t go away. I think I didn’t think that could happen to people like me. That just couldn’t have happened but I realized that it did the next morning,” Courtney added.
Detective Ninette Toosbuy, who is the Officer-in-Charge on the case said Gaspar was in a “position of trust” as a nursing assistant which makes the alleged crime especially “egregious.” Some of his alleged victims are described still being under the influence of anesthesia as they were molested, police said in a press release.
Toosbuy worked diligently for over ten years to locate Gaspar and bring him to justice, often checking on and reaching out to his alleged victims, according to Courtney.
“I thought at one point, ‘okay, he got away’ and I have to be okay with that and move on with my life. When I saw her call my phone, I froze. For so many years I waited and waited for that call. I pleaded and pleaded for that call to come,” said Courtney. “Eventually that kind of slipped away and I forgot about it. It was no longer on the forefront of my mind. When I saw her call I was like ‘oh my God.’ I picked it up and I heard ‘I’ve waited 10 years to make this call’ and I just started crying.”
Two other women had filed complaints with the hospital prior to Courtney’s alleged assault but hospital officials did not report the incidents to police and Gaspar was still employed at the medical center, according to LAPD.
Anna B., who was allegedly assaulted just a few weeks after Courtney, also addressed her alleged experience at the hands of Gaspar. She was recovering from emergency surgery and was not mobile during the majority of her nine-day hospital stay.
“I was taken out of my room and he took me to the shower. It was my first shower; I hadn’t been able to bathe for days. I was so relieved to get out of my bed and to be able to shower. That’s where it occurred during that time,” Anna said with tears in her eyes.
The alleged assault left her distraught and she immediately reported the incident to hospital officials.
“The incident that occurred with me was so shocking in the moment. When I got back to my room there was a person changing my bed linens and I asked what the procedure was. Had he followed procedure, was he supposed to be with me in that situation and she said ‘absolutely not,’ and would I report to someone,” said Anna. “I got the sense that she was relieved that I would report it to someone. That she was not shocked to hear what I have to say and so I reported it to the hospital.”
Both woman expressed gratitude to Toosbuy and relief that Gaspar will be held accountable for “everything that he’s done to us.”
“Courtney reported at the beginning of the month and the incident that happened to me was at the end of the month. So the hospital knew. As Detective Toosbuy said, you think you’re going to be safe in the hospital,” said Anna.
Toosbuy added that assaults can often happen in hospital showers or rooms where cameras are not usually present.
Gaspar has been charged with seven counts of sexual battery by fraud, five counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and three counts of sexual battery on an institutionalized victim, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
He is scheduled to appear in court on July 7 and faces a possible maximum sentence of 26 years in state prison if convicted.