EMT sexually assaulted woman with Parkinson’s in back of ambulance, CA lawsuit says

An EMT sexually assaulted a woman with Parkinson’s disease while she was strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance, a California lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, filed on May 19, says that the company that employed the paramedic, American Medical Response, engaged in a pattern of “negligent hiring, supervision and lack of oversight” and “enabled” predators.

On Dec. 23, an 82-year-old woman, who is not named in the lawsuit, fell at an assisted living home in San Mateo County. Miguel Nieblas Ontiveros, a paramedic with American Medical Response, responded in an ambulance with another EMT, according to the lawsuit.

The paramedics picked up the woman, who has Parkinson’s disease, and took her to a medical center about a half-hour drive from the assisted living home, according to the lawsuit.

During the transport, Ontiveros stayed in the back of the ambulance with the patient while the other paramedic drove, according to the lawsuit. The patient was strapped into a stretcher and was wearing a neck immobilizer.

Ontiveros turned off the lights in the back of the ambulance, blindfolded the woman and sexually assaulted her, the lawsuit says.

The ambulance driver later told investigators she didn’t see the assault happen, but after arriving at the hospital, she went to the back of the ambulance and saw Ontiveros pulling up his pants, the lawsuit says.

The patient, who only speaks Cantonese, later told investigators through her daughter-in-law, who served as a translator, that “a bad man did horrible things to her,” the lawsuit says.

Ontiveros was charged on April 21 with two counts of “forcible oral copulation,” according to the lawsuit.

American Medical Response, which provides ambulance services around the country, said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation. The company also said that Ontiveros was terminated after his arrest, and they are cooperating with law enforcement.

Ontiveros’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges on May 2, according to San Mateo County court records.

Ontiveros was ’unfit for service,’ the lawsuit says

American Medical Response knew or should have known that Ontiveros was “unfit for service” before hiring him, according to the lawsuit.

He was dismissed from the South San Francisco Fire Department in July 2020 after he was accused of submitting fraudulent time cards and receiving $15,000 for hours he didn’t work, the lawsuit says.

He was charged with five counts of grand theft by a servant, agent or employee of $950 or more on Dec. 24, 2020, according to San Mateo County court records. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

While working for American Medical Response, he was accused of assaulting an 80-year-old woman in an ambulance on May 21, 2022, according to the lawsuit. Despite the accusations, the company allowed Ontiveros to continue working and to be alone with patients in the back of ambulances.

“(American Medical Response) allowed a sexual predator to roam free and prey on the elderly,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit accuses the company of keeping Ontiveros employed because it had a staff shortage and just needed “warm bodies” to work in ambulances.

Trauma will last ’the rest of her life,’ the lawsuit says

The 82-year-old woman, who lives at an assisted living home in Colma, about 10 miles south of San Francisco, has two daughters and a daughter-in-law who visit her often, according to the lawsuit. She loved to spend time with family and friends and was a “fierce” player of Mahjong, a Chinese game played with tiles.

But since the assault, she has been “prevented from performing daily activities and obtaining the full enjoyment of life,” the lawsuit says. She has also suffered “severe emotional distress” and “trauma that will in all likelihood last the rest of her life,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks damages of an unspecified amount for her pain and suffering, medical expenses and costs of psychological treatment, the lawsuit says.

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