A jury this week awarded more than $13 million to three women who were sexually assaulted while patients at a private psychiatric hospital in Ventura County.
Three years ago, Juan Valencia, a mental health worker at Aurora Vista del Mar Hospital in Ventura, pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving female patients in 2013. He was sentenced to more than six years in jail.
The women sued the hospital and its parent company, Michigan-based Signature Healthcare Services, alleging that Valencia was hired despite a history of sex crimes and was not properly supervised while working at the facility. In 2000, Valencia, then 18, was convicted of statutory rape after he impregnated his 14-year-old girlfriend.
On Monday, a Ventura jury determined the companies were to blame for what happened to the women at Vista del Mar. One of the three plaintiffs was awarded $6.5 million, one $3.75 million and one $3 million in compensatory damages.