Universal Health Services among defendants in sexual "grooming" suit
August 7, 2013
PHOENIX (CN) - A medical health technician seduced a mother of six at a psychiatric hospital, then got her to leave her family and "borrowed" $1,000 from her, the woman and her husband claim in court.
Kristiina Wuollet, and her husband Theodore claim that Clarence Copeland, then a medical health technician at Valley Hospital Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Care, began "grooming" Kristiina while she was a patient at the hospital.
They sued Copeland, the hospital, Universal Health Services, and Ascend Health Corp., in Maricopa County Court.
"During the duration that plaintiff Kristiina Wuollet resided at the facility, defendant Copeland began 'grooming' her, taking advantage of his position on her treatment team and of her vulnerability, through continuously flattering her and by initiating inappropriate intimate conversations with her," the lawsuit states.
The Wuollets claim that Copeland's job required him to "function as an active part of plaintiff's treatment team, providing continuous patient care, supervision, interaction, and role modeling, and whose work was under the direction and care of a registered nurse."
When Kristiina was discharged from Valley Hospital, Copeland got her contact information from her patient file and "began sexting with her and engaging her in numerous daily phone conversations," according to the complaint.
Kristiina left her husband and children shortly after she was discharged, "moved in with defendant Copeland, and continued a sexual affair which had begun during her residency at the facility and continued for approximately eight months," according to the lawsuit.
Theodore Wuollet says he filed a complaint with Valley Hospital after Kristiina was discharged, "providing evidence of the text message exchanges between his wife and defendant Copeland," but Valley Hospital failed to respond.
The Wuollets, who have been married since 1987, claim Kristiina "was unable to protect herself from the exploitation she suffered at the hands of defendants."
Copeland, who is no longer employed by the hospital, "abused his position of trust and 'borrowed' $1,000 from plaintiff Kristiina Wuollet, which has not been repaid," the complaint states.
Copeland continued to contact Kristiina, including one instance "when he called her at her place of work and drove there to talk to her, threatening to move closer to her home so he could see her," according to the complaint.
Valley Hospital did not respond by press time to a request for comment.
The Wuollets seek damages for breach of fiduciary duty, medical negligence, elder abuse and infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Terrence Woods and Marilyn Cage with Broening, Oberg, Woods & Wilson.
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