Nursing home failed to quickly report employee accused of sexual abuse, mother of victim says

A former nursing home employee has said a co-worker who assaulted her 13-year-old wasn't reported to the state in a timely fashion and continued to work at a nearby facility, according to local reports.

The 13-year-old was volunteering at the Cherry Creek Nursing Center in Aurora, CO, reported Fox 31 Denver, where she was assaulted by certified nursing assistant Alex J. Martinez, 34. He was arrested on four counts of child sex assault in July 2015, according to state documents. He pled guilty to lesser charges in September 2016, and in October was sentenced to two years in jail.

Cherry Creek General Counsel Brian Lee said the facility suspended Martinez immediately once police became involved, conducted its own investigation and then terminated him. 

"The facility cooperated fully with the police, and as a result we understand that Martinez agreed to a guilty plea," he said via email.

The mother of the victim, however, told the station she repeatedly asked the nursing home, her former employer, if it was going to report Martinez but said she was told that it didn't need to because the teenager was “just a volunteer.”

Martinez kept working as a nursing assistant at another facility for months after his arrest, the station reported. That nursing home said it had no knowledge of his arrest and would have terminated him if it they knew he was arrested for a sex crime at a different facility.

State laws vary on how abuse in nursing homes should be reported, including whether the abuse involved a patient or a volunteer. Lee said that Colorado's reporting system for the Board of Nursing "is focused on violations of the Nurses Practice Act and the Nurse Aides Practice Act. These statutes require reporting actions of nurses and nurse aides that have endangered their patients." However, when state officials received an email in late October about Martinez's conduct, it terminated his CNA certification within a week. 

Lee said that once the facility learned of Martinez's guilty plea, it checked DORA's website to confirm action was taken against his license. It was the second case where the television station has pursued whether a nursing home employee accused of sexual abuse was reported to the state. Lee said the facility cooperated in both cases with police and noted its favorable quality ratings. 

"Cherry Creek Nursing Center is moving past the unfortunate series of events," he said.