Woman sues nurse, Mission Viejo hospital over alleged sexual assault

Local news

A former patient is suing a nurse and a Mission Viejo hospital over an alleged sexual assault that occurred at the facility earlier this year, she announced during a news conference Thursday.

Zoe Cooksey spoke out against the nurse, 56-year-old Paul Alden Miller, who was arrested last month on suspicion of sexually assaulting three women at Providence Mission Hospital.

The alleged assault on Cooksey occurred in March, when the 22-year-old woman said was admitted to the hospital’s emergency room following a car crash. She alleges Miller assaulted her while inserting a catheter.

Miller allegedly gave the victim three shots of morphine for her pain, which eventually rendered her immobile, Cooksey’s attorney Shawn Steel said at the news conference.

When she realized something strange was happening, she was able to text her mother, who showed up within minutes. In the meantime, Miller assaulted Cooksey, the civil lawsuit alleges.

Steel said Cooksey then went home, and as the drugs wore off, she started to recall what happened. She alerted authorities the next day.

Zoe Cooksey, left, walks with her mother, Amber Leight, center, and grandmother, Annette Oltmans, outside Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on July 8, 2021. Cooksey has filed a lawsuit against the hospital’s parent company and former nurse Paul Alden Miller, alleging he sexually assaulted her.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Zoe Cooksey, left, walks with her mother, Amber Leight, center, and grandmother, Annette Oltmans, outside Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on July 8, 2021. Cooksey has filed a lawsuit against the hospital’s parent company and former nurse Paul Alden Miller, alleging he sexually assaulted her.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

“I was vulnerable and he took advantage of me and of his position of authority,” she said. “During the pandemic, when we depended most on our first responders, I was completely betrayed by Mission Hospital and Paul Miller. This has been one of the worst experiences of my life and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be the same again.

A 68-year-old woman reported that she was also sexually assaulted by Miller at the same location in April, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Her report was followed by another in June, when a 56-year-old also accused Miller of assaulting her at Providence Hospital.

Miller, of San Clemente, was arrested June 30 on suspicion of sexual elder abuse and sexual battery. He was released on $100,000 bail later that day, officials said.

Authorities are seeking information on any possible additional victims of Miller, who also worked at Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista from December 2014 to May 2015.

Cooksey, of Costa Mesa, also encouraged other victims to come forward.

“I am coming forward today to give a voice of the victims of sexual assault, and to let others know that it’s ok to stand up and share your story,” she said.

Miller was placed on administrative leave after the Mission Viejo hospital learned of the first incident and he has not worked at the facility since, according to a Providence Mission Hospital spokeswoman.

The hospital said it’s fully cooperating with authorities and that it has “zero tolerance for behavior that does not align with our Mission and values.”

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