Florida psychiatric technician charged with molesting patients

October 1, 2013

A medical technician is facing five sex offense charges after the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said he molested patients at a mental health facility.

Benjamin Bland, 44, of south Fort Myers, is facing five counts of having sex with mental patients and remained in custody Thursday at the Lee County Jail on $125,000 bail. He was taken into custody Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office did not release the name of the hospital where Bland worked. But the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, the licensing agency for health care facilities in Florida, confirmed it is looking into a report of sexual misconduct at Park Royal Hospital.

“We are aware of the incident and are reviewing the allegations,” said AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman.

Coleman said she couldn’t go into more detail.

Michael Evans, chief executive officer at Park Royal, said he couldn’t discuss the arrest and couldn’t confirm if Bland worked at the hospital.

“I’m not at liberty to disclose anything at this time,” he said. “Unfortunately, given the circumstances, we can’t comment.”

Evans released a statement via email that read in part:

“We are cooperating fully with the authorities on the investigation. Every employee at the hospital undergoes a comprehensive pre-employment screening and background check. In addition, the hospital maintains a zero-tolerance policy for any action that could endanger the physical or emotional well-being of a patient.”

The sheriff’s office said there are five patients who said Bland made inappropriate sexual advances toward them, according to a report.

The patients reported incidents dating back to at least July and as recently as two weeks ago.

One patient, who was admitted to a facility in August, told investigators Bland made sexual comments to her, masturbated in front of her and had sexual encounters with her and another woman admitted to the facility.

Another victim reported a sexual battery involving Bland in July, but the victim later signed a desire not to prosecute affidavit citing she could no longer continue with the investigation because of her mental health, according to the report.

A third victim, who suffers from depression, is bipolar and has other mental health issues, told investigators she was admitted to the facility in June for an assessment and said Bland started making sexual advances toward her in July and later sexually battered her in her bathroom, according to the report.

Investigators said she notified facility personnel a few days after the incident, but at the time she was unable to continue with an interview because of her mental state.

A fourth victim told investigators Bland groped her and asked her for sex. She said she pushed him away and told hospital personnel about the incidents. These incidents also occurred in July.

A fifth victim, who was admitted to the facility as a patient in June, said Bland forced her into a sexual situation after he followed her into a closet. She told investigators she didn’t initially report the incident because she didn’t think anyone would believe her.

Source: Dennis Culver, "Medical technician molested mental patients, sheriff's office says," News-Press, September 19, 2013.


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