LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas cancer patient who told police a nurse repeatedly sexually assaulted her in her hospital bed has filed a lawsuit against the medical facility, claiming it failed to report a prior allegation of sexual abuse to the state board.
As the 8 News Now I-Team first reported last summer, Katherine Burnett said she woke up to Ricardo Mederos on top of her in her room at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Burnett said she has been battling terminal colon cancer since 2012.
In court documents first obtained by the I-Team, investigators wrote Mederos allegedly assaulted Burnett on Aug. 24 and Aug. 29. Burnett told investigators she had received sedatives in the middle of the night and fell asleep both times.
According to police, fluid on a napkin and on a mask tested positive for semen. Mederos’ DNA matched evidence that Burnett reportedly kept after the incident, a prosecutor said in court in November.
During one alleged incident, Mederos is accused of touching Burnett’s breast and performing a sex act in front of her. According to court documents, Mederos told Burnett not to talk about what she saw.
According to police, Mederos told Burnett, “he had people that could make sure that [Burnett] didn’t speak again” and “people on this floor will take care of it if you say anything.” In addition, Burnett told police Mederos told her “he would say that I was blackmailing him for pain meds,” documents said.
In a lawsuit filed in 2020, a woman in her late-40s claims a similar incident involving Mederos happened to her at Sunrise in November 2019. 8 News Now is not naming the woman as she is a sexual assault victim who has not publicly discussed her claim.
“Defendant Mederos sexually assaulted [redacted] repeatedly; both verbally and also physically by touching her breasts,” the 2020 lawsuit said. “[Redacted] had no means of escape due to her physical condition and the positioning of defendant Mederos’ body. [Redacted] pleaded with defendant Mederos to cease his repeated sexual assaults and he eventually fled her hospital room.”
According to court documents, Metro closed the 2019 case due to a lack of evidence. The civil case is expected to go to trial in 2023.
“After fully investigating the allegations, Metro declined to charge the individual in 2019 due to a lack of evidence,” Dan McFadden, a spokesman for Sunrise, wrote in a statement to 8 News Now. “We honor the legal process and its findings. If an issue arises that could potentially be criminal in nature, we contact law enforcement, fully cooperate in their investigation, and rely on their findings.”
According to Burnett’s lawsuit filed Monday, the hospital “did not report the allegations to the Nevada Board of Nursing.”
The lawsuit also claims video surveillance from the hospital floor shows Mederos entering Burnett’s room, closing the door and then leaving two minutes later.
“I believe that if I don’t speak up, that someone else is going to become his victim or someone else’s victim,” Burnett previously told the I-Team.
“It’s scary for anybody that’s been hospitalized and sedated might question was I a victim and just not even know about it,” Burnett’s attorney, Matt Hoffmann, previously told the I-Team.
Mederos had no prior disciplinary record with the board and no criminal history. During his initial court appearance last summer, Judge Joe Bonaventure ordered Mederos not to work as a nurse or in any health care capacity. His nursing license expired in September.
Mederos’ lawyer, Jess Marchese, previously said Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center has since fired his client.
Mederos is on house arrest while his case moves forward. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of coercion with force or threat of force and two counts of open or gross lewdness.
8 News Now does not identify victims of sexual assault, however, Burnett has talked openly about her experience and did an interview with the I-Team.
Mederos and the hospital have denied the claims in responses filed in court. Representatives for Sunrise said they do not comment on pending litigation.