Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Sex Abuse Cover-up At Cottage Hospital?

Two Lawsuits Say Patients Were Assaulted Then Lied To

Originally published 12:00 a.m., September 25, 2013
Updated 1:00 p.m., October 1, 2013
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A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court alleges that a Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital nursing assistant sexually abused a disabled woman in his care and that hospital staff and administrators not only failed to report the abuse to police but actively swept the incident under the rug. The lawsuit, which claims negligence and fraud and seeks punitive damages, is the second to be filed in recent months against the rehab center and the nursing assistant for the same set of circumstances.

In both cases, 55-year-old Summerland resident Jose Carrillo is accused of sexually assaulting partially paralyzed female patients recovering from brain injuries as he helped them shower. And in both cases when the women told hospital staff what had happened, attorneys say, they were cautioned they were having delusions and hallucinations because of their medical conditions, but were nonetheless promised the incidents were being looked into and that the appropriate authorities had been notified. One of the victims, 49 years old and from San Luis Obispo, had received surgery to remove a brain tumor and the other, 57 years old and living in Santa Maria, had suffered a stroke; both were learning to walk, talk, and eat again.

Jose Carrillo booking photo from October 2012 arrest
Click to enlarge photo


Jose Carrillo booking photo from October 2012 arrest

According to police records, however, Cottage never contacted law enforcement about the reports of abuse, which allegedly occurred between February and April of 2010 and in January 2011. It was only when one of the victims spoke to detectives herself in June 2012 did the investigation begin and the second victim was identified. Carrillo would be arrested in October 2012 on four felony charges including penetration with a foreign object and forced oral copulation, but the District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute him, stating the case couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Though Carrillo remained employed at the rehab facility after the first set of accusations in 2010, he left Cottage under unknown circumstances following the 2011 incident. He remains a licensed nursing assistant, according to state records. Attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

“There is no doubt these assaults occurred,” said Los Angeles-based attorney David Ring, who’s representing both women in their cases. “Cottage Hospital’s attempts to conceal these assaults demonstrates that it cares more about its own reputation than about protecting its patients … The conduct of the perpetrator is despicable; the conduct of the Hospital is outrageous.” In the first lawsuit, filed in February 2013, Ring alleges that Cottage deceived one of the victims by having an employee from its Risk Management Department pose as an outside investigator and conduct a mock interview. At the end of the interview, the employee reportedly admonished the victim to keep silent so as not to interfere with the supposed police inquiry or tarnish Carrillo’s reputation. Ring noted the victims never knew each other and were at the hospital at different times, several months apart.

Cottage attempted to have the February lawsuit dismissed, but a judge rejected the request, noting in the ruling that the victim claimed a nurse at the hospital “witnessed Carrillo engaging in inappropriate interactions with the plaintiff in the shower.” A possible jury trial is pending in that case, and the lawsuit filed Tuesday is just starting to work its way through the court system. Ring urged any other victims to come forward and contact SBPD detectives. As of publishing deadlines, a press conference was scheduled for Wednesday morning where Ring and the two victims were expected to address the media and talk about their ordeals.

When asked for comment, Cottage Hospital spokesperson Maria Zate declined to speak on the individual cases and issued this statement: “Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital and all of the Cottage hospitals hold the care and safety of every patient as our highest priority. Any allegation of patient abuse is taken extremely seriously, and we have rigorous procedures in place to thoroughly investigate in a timely manner.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The District Attorney's Office wishes to make clear that the alleged perpetrator was not prosecuted, because the case failed the reasonable doubt test. The DAO also states the victims' cognitive handicaps did not play a role in the decision.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Zate should have said "Any allegation of patient abuse is **now** taken extremely seriously." But is is is.

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 6:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wed., Seot. 25
Why was a male nursing asst. giving showers to females? So wrong!
The administration should be sued . The perp should be in prison.

RetiredOne (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 7:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So should female nursing assistants not be giving showers to males either?

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 7:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Be very honest people.......would you let Jose anywhere near your Mom, Grandma, sister, wife, daughter, or girlfriend if they were in the rehab. department at the hospital?

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If he did this to my mother He'd be dead.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 9:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is what happens when you have a monopoly that controls heathcare in Santa Barbara.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 11:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Right Herschel - I'm sure that a more competitive healthcare environment would have put a lid on this guy's deviant sexual urges.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 1:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Women are rarely sex abusers or rapists. That's why the greater percentage of nurses are women.

RetiredOne (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 2:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'll have to think about that one.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When you are the only game in town like Cottage you tend to have a complacent attitude. Cottage dis not care. This case should have been delt with long before the civil lawsuit. BTW if you do not like the way Cottage does business or how your loved ones are cared for, where are you going to go? Out of town. I hope that Cottage gets taken to the cleaners on this one

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 4:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm with Herschel on this one. Cottage is always image 1st and the community somewhere further down the list. I say make them learn with a big bucks lawsuit.

geeber (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 6:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Herschel, I'm sure they'll just add it to your bill next time you get sick.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 7:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Since there are no other hospitals in Santa Barbara, they are already charging the optimum monopoly price for their services. Botany your assertion makes no economic sense. And which price? The off the street no insure price? The insure price? The preferred insurance company price? The Medicare price? ....

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
September 25, 2013 at 11:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How about the sweetheart deal they have had with Mission Terrace?
My mom went into Cottage Hospital with a case of pneumonia back in April of 2008. After two days, she had dramatically improved, but after four days--without any consultation with my mom, dad, my sister or myself, they funneled her right into Mission Terrace. I won't go into the details but it was a seven-week nightmare of Mission Terrace's incompetence and non-treatment. I don't know why they simply didn't release my mom back to home. Long into short, by the time we were finally able to get my mom out of Mission Terrace, the damage had been done, and she died about two months later. We sued and settled for Cottage's actions, as well as Mission Terrace's.

That's life in the politics of Santa Barbara's medical industry., and if you talk to people on the street, you will find my story is not unusual.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 26, 2013 at 6:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Medical care in Santa Barbara is a joke, period!

Led by ego driven incompetent physicians, especially some in the OB-GYN field, but medical incompetence in this town isn't restricted to this specialty.

Learned of a person discharged from Cottage, sent to Mission Terrace and on admission diagnosed with pneumonia. They were returned to ER. I believe the more people discuss these facilities it is very possible more information will be learned, good and bad.

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
September 26, 2013 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Had a friend whos mother was sent to Mission Terrace she was supposed to be there a week. She was found dead in a pool of blood there was only one news article about it. It was in the Carpinteria paper the article said it was ruled a homicide by the S.B. County coroner but no one was ever arrested or charged. This happened about 10 or 12 years ago. They all need to be exposed..The people involved too no privacy for the offenders weather they be the criminal, or the criminals covering it up no one helps the people anymore we gotta help each other..

Byrd (anonymous profile)
September 27, 2013 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's really too bad hospitals don't carry rape kits, that would have made it easy to test their theory. Oh waits..

loonpt (anonymous profile)
September 27, 2013 at 8:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let me see here. " ...sexually assaulting partially paralyzed female patients recovering from brain injuries as he helped them shower." Come again? Yep, I read correctly, " HE helped them shower." Under what circumstance was the fox put in charge of the henhouse? Tsk! Tsk!

salsipuedes (anonymous profile)
September 27, 2013 at 11:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

take note, the man's picture is above. How'd you react if your family member was in the care of this guy after this?

spacey (anonymous profile)
September 27, 2013 at 1:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bill Clausen is correct! Mission Terrace has a sweetheart deal with Cottage. Cottage discharges patients there and Mission Terrace milks Medicare for rehab. If the patient's Medicare is exhausted, the patient must be discharged or become a private pay patient because Mission Terrace won't accept MediCal.

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
September 27, 2013 at 8:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The medical care problem is still a problem, even though the idiots in Washington think they solved it. We don't need healthcare insurance reform, we need healthcare reform.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is not surprising. I know someone who was bullied by an nurse manager. Cottage is spending bucks to fight a disability stress claim that has been in the courts hands for 5 months. This manager has reputation for having a mean spirit , causing a lot of stress for the department nurses. This has great impact on patient care. If they care so much for their patients why are they not dealing with this manager. Instead they are spending big bucks for attorneys and coaching employees to lie while on stand as an witness for of fear of loosing their job.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 8:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They should fight it. Stress disability is a fraud.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 10:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Stress disability is not a fraud. If you to your research you will find that bullying is a real problem in hospitals. The American Nurses Association, National Board of Nursing, and JACHO recognizes this as a real problem that has a real impact on patient care. If you research you will find multiple health problems associated with the bullying that occurs at Cottage Hospital. This is a real threat to patients and Cottage uses every tactic to cover it up and not deal with the issue, including perjury by submitting false documents to the courts.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think someone not working and expecting to be paid for it with some lame excuse is much more of a threat to patient care, don't you? Most people that don't like their bosses or jobs switch to something else. But for some, not working and getting paid for it is a much more attractive alternative. I've worked in hospitals for many years. I have had good bosses as well as terrible bosses. If someone's not happy with what their doing or who they're working for, do something else or work somewhere else. At a big hospital like Cottage, it should be relatively easy to switch departments. I'm sure people do that all the time. Just don't expect to do nothing and get paid for it. Pathetic!

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 2:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You are very free with you comments and your opinion is not support by any credible data to support what you are saying. I provided you creditable resources to read and suggest you do before making such thoughtless comments. Also believe my friend has paid dearly not being able to do a job that he thoroughly enjoys, and misses patient care interaction everyday. You sound like a Cottage person here to make excuses for an organization that does not deal with their issues. The idea that you would suggest that an employee trying to get medical help is an more of a threat to patient care than a stressed employee suffering hostile environment is really a mindless thought.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"stress disability" is not fraud, Botany, although it is likely easier to fake than some other obvious maladies. Lovepeople: agree!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 2:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I also suppose you think its ok for this same manager to display unprofessional conduct that threatens the integrity of the nursing profession and that nursing students are warned about the possible interaction with this manager by the institution facility prior to their clinical practical. This is another issue that is not addressed for fear that the institution will loose funding from Cottage Hospital.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you DrDAn, My friend wishes everyday that he ever decided to make SB his home after completing a traveling assignment. The stress compounded after several years and started to have many medical issues after being very healthily. Insomnia began to play a big part and led to a complete breakdown due to lack of sleep. He now struggles with side effects of the medications that he was given for sleep. These medication also affects his thought process and prevents him from working at this time while under the care of his doctor. He tried to work in finding a new job within the hospital but this manager preventing him from doing so. The HR department was useless and refuse to help him. I have been with him when he has extreme shakes and finds it difficult to stay on topic during a conversation. This is not the person I knew prior to working at Cottage Hospital.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course stress disability is a fraud. Our entire disability system is being abused. Please review this study by highly respected NPR.

Disability is much easier to get on and stay on than welfare. The rise in disability claims and the type of claims we have seen in recent years is revealing.

Of course Dr. Dan loves the French model of doing as little as possible in your job and getting the most from the government for doing nothing.

We have the lowest labor participation rate in decades and the highest number of people on public assistance including disability.

The real irony of this situation is we still need a guest worker program because we can't get our crops picked. It's a real disgrace that people on the government dole make more money than those working at Mickey D's.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 5:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

your ignorance shows again, Botany, writing: "Of course Dr. Dan loves the French model of doing as little as possible in your job " -- like you know anything about me or about France. The point is, you spout off about lots you don't know, and it certainly shows. I've worked in private settings all my life, never on disability, never tried... your ad hominem junk is pointless.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 6 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, NPR is a good source, Botany, too bad you didn't have the will-power or attention capacity to read to the end of it. The conclusion was:
"But, in most cases, going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for."
I believe in most Americans, and their desire to work hard at their jobs. Yes, there are certainly some slackers just like there are some deadbeat landlords, Botany, but most of us want meaning in our lives. Going on disability is a terrible thing for those going on it; most of them must be pretty desperate. A lot of this disability action is in the more poverty-stricken states, and the report's author notes how many of the available jobs are standing and heavy lifting jobs: people do get disabled this way, and then fall into disability and are condemned to a life to poverty. But then you believe "stress" is fraud, so of course you believe all these folks going on disability are also participating in fraud. What a view of human nature you have: I pity you.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 6:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No, stress is not fraud, but not being able to work because of it is. ALL jobs have stress in some sort or other. And as far as the "deal" goes. It's not a good one for the taxpayers. And actually, I have a very good view of human nature, otherwise, McDonald's and Walmart wouldn't have any employees. They'd all be on disability or welfare.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 7:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bontany, I don't think you fully understand the situation nor try. My friend that suffers from stress is dealing with the effects of the medication for treating insomnia. He is a very compassionate person and speaks everyday how he would love to return to his job. I believe that we got off topic, because what I was trying to explain is Cottage tends to cover up everything and not deal with the issues appropriately. If they did my friend would be working and not dealing with issues related to a manger that bullying behavior has continued for 25 years plus. Also Dr Dan is correct about living in property in that his lifestyle has changed dramatically. You fail to show any compassion and choose to pick and choose what you believe without foundation. I feel very sorry that life has dealt you the wrong hand in life, and it shows in your angry messages you post.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 9:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Kudos to Dr Dan for working his entire life. And there's no anger here. But there does seem to be anger from "lovepeople" that Cottage or the government is not paying for your able-bodied friend not to work. I think we've all had terrible bosses before, but that's not the point. If the employer has done something illegal, then your friend should sue to get his job back or a different job within the organization. That's not what your friend wants though. Your able-bodied friend wants to be paid not to work. That's the difference.

Botany (anonymous profile)
September 30, 2013 at 6:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No anger here, either, Botany, but there is intellectual scorn since you cite "highly respected NPR" (your words; your citation) -- -- and when I show you it does NOT say or imply what you stated, you have no response and shift topics and stay with your hardhearted view. Put simply, as a landlord, your only point of view is about paying taxes: "[the deal] It's not a good one for the taxpayers."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 30, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

once again Botany you choice to make comments and not fully read my post. There is an law proceeding in process to get the care needed so my friend can return to work. There has been no disability filed with the government, and only with the third party administrator hospital insurance. He would very much like his job back after he has recovered, and to regain his livelihood. He is a very responsible person and hates doing nothing. He thoroughly likes patient care and he is well liked by the people he provides care too. Stress can cause tremendous amount of medical problems. I understand that many people abuse the government healthcare system, however their are some that don't and truly suffer impact from undo stress from a hostile work environment. That is what has been created at Cottage Hospital and people like yourself tend to feel your suppose to walk away and do nothing. That does not solve the issues and does nothing to make Cottage responsible for culture that they continue to nurture, and allows more people to be effected by this unstable environment. Many good nurses are walking away from their job because this type of unresolved treatment and it is very sad with the nursing shortage that California suffers. So please understand, this is not an situation that my friend wants to sit back collect money from the government. With the recent law suit filed it very clear that Cottage refuses to not deal with issues that effect their employees and patients, and yes my friend also was patient and was treated very poorly. Today he will not seek care from Cottage Hospital.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
September 30, 2013 at 10:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I wouldn't want that guy bathing me !! yech ...and believe me ; if there are two reports - it happened .

harryhaller (anonymous profile)
September 30, 2013 at 9:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have no idea whether he did it or not but to harryhaller there were a lot more than two reports per the McMartin Preschool accusations back in the '80's before (after years harrassment) the charges were proven false. (And lives were destroyed in the process) But clearly lynch mob mentality runs deep in these blogs.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 30, 2013 at 9:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

oh darn straight stress disability is real! I DID quit. I quit the government job I thought I'd retire from. so did quite a few of my colleagues. I didn't sue or look into disability. no energy for that. All it takes to be destroyed is one person, one bully and a few mistakes. It costs all of us a lot.
Long ago, before Cottage took it over, Rehab Institute was the best, most inclusive, open-management place I ever worked at. Not to mention the mission and the buy-in from every committed and caring employee. What other place lets you talk to all VP's & President at quarterly all-staff meetings, ask about the economics and get a honest answer?!!
They HAD to go with Cottage; lowered reimbursement and Rehab staff and admin fighting for appropriate patient stay length doomed them. The health care industry doomed them. Their option was closing. I am glad Rehab is still here. But it is no longer "the Rehab Institute" many of us have known and loved and been saved by. Bless you, Dr. Meisel.

geraldbostock (anonymous profile)
October 1, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks Gerald for you comments. This is not a employee or patient friendly environment. People work there because they is no other place to work. Cottage takes advantage of this situation, and tries to get rid of staff that to try to make a healthier workplace environment. Staff is afraid to speak up and share their feelings and suggest changes that could improve the workplace environment. I thought it was a real joke when they attempted to obtained Magnet status. Working in the past at several Magnet hospitals I knew personally they did not have a shot. HR maintains that they are advocates for the staff when their only advocates for the hospital, and is responsible for most issues that are not properly handled.

lovepeople (anonymous profile)
October 1, 2013 at 9:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gerald - Sorry to hear that you had a colleague or boss that caused you enough grief that you felt the best option was to quit. And good for you that you moved on with your life without feeling the government owed you a free ride.

I have had a job that I have left in the past because of the people I worked with as well. It's discouraging to have to do that. But I think we both showed the integrity to continue to work for our compensation rather to seek to have it given to us.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 1, 2013 at 10:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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