State Authorities Allowed Alleged Sexual Predator To Job-Hop Among San Diego Area Nursing Homes
Speaker 1: 00:00 Documents reveal that California regulators allowed a nursing assistant to job hop among San Diego area nursing homes, even though they were aware of multiple sexual assault allegations against him, KPBS investigative reporter Amica Sharma has the story Speaker 2: 00:18 Certified nursing assistant Matthew fluke at your warned 62 year old Gale to keep quiet right after he allegedly raped her twice in one hour at a Lamesa nursing home in January, 2020 Speaker 3: 00:34 Here, he said he knows we address and everything and all my personal business. So trust me. I know you're not gonna say anything, Speaker 2: 00:46 Even if you do, no one will believe you. They love me here. He had reason to think he could sexually assault women in nursing homes with impunity state records obtained by KPBS show, the California department of public health. The very agency that is supposed to protect nursing home residents from predators knew that Fluker had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct three years earlier, but the States still did not rescind his license. In fact, CDPH allowed fluke adjure to continue to work in nursing homes, even as it investigated additional accusations that he sodomized one woman in 2019 sexually assaulted another six weeks later and early last year raped Gail who didn't want her last name used. Speaker 3: 01:35 This is perhaps the worst and most horrifying story of serial sexual assault that I have ever heard in the long-term care setting. Speaker 2: 01:43 Mike dark is a lawyer for California advocates for nursing home reform. Huh? Speaker 3: 01:48 Many women would need to be assaulted before they felt like they needed to take action. Speaker 2: 01:54 CDPH did not revoke flickers license to practice as a certified nursing assistant until August, 2020, the agency conceded in a letter to Flueckiger that month that it actually could have rescinded his license for any one of the four sexual misconduct allegations against him dating back to 2017. Ernie Tosche a Texas lawyer who sues nursing homes and abuse cases says is a damning self indictment by CDPH. Yes, Speaker 3: 02:23 Each of these four incidents was enough to be revoked. Why didn't you revoke it? Speaker 2: 02:28 CDPH declined to answer that question and dozens others, the agencies only comment. It was a written statement saying it takes sexual assault allegations that nursing homes seriously CDPH his first chance to take away fluke teacher's license came shortly after May, 2017. When investigators learned that he requested oral sex from a woman in exchange for cigarettes at Parkside health and wellness center in Alcoa home lawyer, Jennifer theory says the state should have swiftly removed Fluker from caregiving. Then Speaker 4: 03:01 That alone is an example of not being trusted to behave appropriately in a situation where you are providing care to somebody Speaker 2: 03:10 In 2019, after another sexual assault allegation CDPH again, bypassed an opportunity to pull fluke teacher's license. In that case then 71 year old, Catherine got your Geralt limo. The accused the former caregiver of sodomized her during a diaper change at ABaKaDa post acute in alcohol weeks later Fluker was accused of falling a woman living at a third alcohol nursing home called San Diego post acute. He resigned and then was quickly hired by Parkway Hills nursing and rehabilitation in Lamesa soon afterwards, CDPH investigators told Fluker. They had found discrepancies in his statements about the sexual assault allegations against him, but they let him keep his job at Parkway Hills. Anyway, and few months later, he allegedly raped. Gale who remains traumatized. Speaker 4: 04:01 I always have nightmares. I'm always on guard. Speaker 2: 04:03 She has harsh words for CDPH, his handling of the flu Kutcher case. Speaker 4: 04:08 They're lazy and they're liars. They are, they don't like paperwork. They don't do their jobs. Speaker 2: 04:15 Lawyer. Tosh says CDPH is the legal immunity adds another layer of tragedy, Speaker 4: 04:21 Not Sue them because they botched this investigation. And I'll, I'm a serial rapist to run rampant. Speaker 2: 04:28 The San Diego County district attorney's office filed five felony sex charges against blue Gudger in December after KPBS his stories on the avocado case, he remains in jail pending a trial. Speaker 1: 04:41 Joining me is KPBS investigative reporter Amica Sharma Amica. Welcome is going to speak to you, Maureen. Now this is an incredibly troubling report. Let me ask you, first of all, why can't the California department of public health or its officials be sued if they were negligent in this case, Speaker 2: 05:02 Generally speaking, people who work at governmental agencies and the agencies and selves have immunity from lawsuits. If those lawsuits are going after money damages, which they usually are, but that immunity is not unlimited. And the reason why the lawyer Ernie Tosh said, you really can't Sue is it's next to impossible to win when you're suing the government. Uh, those cases are super, super difficult. And the lawyers who do take them that usually ends up being the only kind of work that they do because they are just so complex. Speaker 1: 05:42 Now are allegations of sexual assault, usually enough to get a nursing home caregiver's license revoked. Speaker 2: 05:50 No they're not, but the allegations are not to suspend a caregiver's license. And that didn't happen in this case in order to actually revoke a license, you've got to have a finding of abuse and that follows an investigation, but then, you know, not every allegation triggers an investigation by the California department of public health. And so it's, it's hit and miss here. And, and, and the other thing Maureen, that I think is important to mention is there's no state database here. So nursing homes are not required to tell the state when they employ a certified nursing assistant. And so that allows candidates for these jobs to lie about where they worked and whether there were previous allegations against them at those previous jobs. Speaker 1: 06:43 Now, the allegations made against this caregiver are crimes. If they are true, were they investigated by law enforcement back in 2017 through 2020? Speaker 2: 06:55 Yes. So Parkside health and wellness center contacted the alcohol police department back in 2017. And that's the cigarettes for oral sex trade and police that there was nothing that they could do about it. The next time that police were contacted that we know of at least regarding Matthew Fluker. It was in June, 2019 when, uh, Katherine Gocha Geralt limo who lives lived at avocado. Post-acute accused [inaudible] of sexually assaulting her during the diaper change, Speaker 1: 07:28 But he was ultimately charged by the San Diego County district attorney. After your initial report on these alleged assaults, what are the charges against fluke? Speaker 2: 07:37 Matthew Fluker is accused of committing four accounts of lewd and lascivious acts on an adult dependent by a caregiver. And there is a fifth related felony charge. Speaker 1: 07:50 What about the care facilities where these incidents allegedly occurred? What was their response to the allegations? They would not comment. So they have had no response as you've been investigating this Nope has fluke and juror said anything about the allegations against him Speaker 2: 08:06 In court. He denies the allegations. He has pleaded not guilty Speaker 1: 08:11 Are the alleged victims of these assaults. Uh, Gail, Catherine, and other women. Are they still at the nursing homes where they say the incidents occurred? Speaker 2: 08:21 Gail is not. Katherine is not. And it record show that, well, at least criminal prosecution records show that the woman at San Diego posted cute, who said that flu Kutcher got on top of her. Um, she's actually at avocado. Post-acute where Catherine got your Geralt. Limos says she was assaulted by pitcher. Speaker 1: 08:46 Now, Amelia, you must have gotten close to Gail. She described a horrible incident to you. What's your impression of how she's coping Maureen. I interviewed Speaker 2: 08:56 Her on a zoom call and she sounded absolutely shattered her. Her life seems like it's irreparably changed. I think that came through during the interview that you heard excerpts of in the story, she was very, very emotional. It was obviously deeply painful for her to recall what happened. And there was some pauses during our conversation because of how hard it was for her to remember those details. Um, and just as an observer, it, it felt like she was reliving the trauma of it all. Speaker 1: 09:42 Now, family members have just recently been allowed to visit their loved ones inside nursing homes. The first time since the pandemic shutdown, is there anything they should be asking about the staff or facility policy to make sure their loved ones are safe? Speaker 2: 09:58 They can ask. It is not clear how accurate the answers will be. I say that because there is a statewide website that's theoretically supposed to help families review how many complaints and categories of those complaints like abuse are filed against a particular nursing home. But when I reviewed on that state website, how the flu Goodyear allegations were recorded, they were not, some of them were not categorized as sexual abuse. One was erroneously categorized as an abuse case of a resident on a resident and one was not listed as substantiated and one wasn't even listed at all. So there really is no way for a family to rest easy because we know on at least two occasions when flu Crutcher was accused of sexual misconduct at Parkside and sexual assaulted avocado, he was actually allowed to return to work. And the nursing homes did not notify families of the allegations. Speaker 1: 11:14 Again, as I said, incredibly troubling reported me though, but thank you so much. I've been speaking with KPBS, investigative reporter of Meetha Sharma. Thank you, Maureen.