Police: Doctor raped two patients before leaving Virginia Mason Memorial hospital

YAKIMA, Wash. — Prosecutors have charged a Yakima doctor with two counts of second-degree rape after police say he gave medically unnecessary pelvic exams to two patients in his care at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital.

The charges against Dr. Alberto Roman-Cabezas come more than two years after police turned over the investigation for the first case to prosecutors and more than a year after police sent off the second. He’s also been charged with two counts of indecent liberties.

Court documents allege Roman-Cabezas gave both women unwanted, medically unnecessary and un-gloved pelvic exams without a chaperone present.

In a statement made to KAPP-KVEW in response to requests for comment, hospital spokesperson Rebecca Teagarden said, “It is our procedure not to talk about personnel issues and he no longer works here.”

Roman-Cabezas allegedly performed seven such pelvic exams on one patient in the span of three days in December 2017.

The woman was admitted to the emergency room with extreme abdominal pain and was eventually hospitalized. Doctors believed she had a urinary tract infection or was suffering from kidney stones.

She was on heavy medication at the hospital and wasn’t concerned about the exams at first, court documents said.

“[She] became concerned when the doctor repeatedly examined her without a chaperone and when she noticed he was not wearing gloves,” court documents said.

The woman asked a nurse if the exams were normal and she said it wasn’t and that nursing staff would call the police in the morning, court documents said.

The next morning, the woman was reportedly told that the hospital had not contacted law enforcement, so she filed a complaint with the hospital and made a report to the police.

“I believe that there is probable cause to show that the seven intrusive examinations of [the first patient] were not medically necessary and done without her consent,” officers said in court documents.

Police say the woman told them that in her twenty-year medical history, numerous hospitalizations and surgery for kidney stones, “pelvic exams had never been part of the treatment plan for her condition.”

Medical records showed no mention of any pelvic exams during the woman’s hospital stay and medical professionals said not having a chaperone and performing examinations without gloves would be, “a gross deviation from standard procedures.”

“Roman-Cabezas continued to work at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital,” court documents said.

Police say Roman-Cabezas was interviewed as part of an internal investigation into the complaint made by [the first woman], after which the hospital closed their inquiry into the inappropriate behavior.

According to court documents, police obtained hospital investigation records through a search warrant and found that the complaint made by the first patient was “unsubstantiated” and the investigation was closed Jan. 1, 2018.

In October 2018, another woman came forward claiming she’d been sexually assaulted by Roman-Cabezas in much the same way: no chaperone, no gloves and no reason for a pelvic exam, court documents said.

“She felt that the doctor didn’t have gloves on and the doctor said ‘You’re one of my favorite patients’ before he left the room,” court documents said.

Police say while the woman made a report to the hospital, “She did not know what came out of the hospital’s investigation into her report and said that the hospital had not been calling her back.”

By the end of November 2018, the hospital moved to terminate its employment contract with Roman-Cabezas. Police say he submitted his letter of resignation and moved away from the area.

Police say Roman-Cabezas is believed to be living in North Carolina and also has ties to Costa Rica, where he is a citizen, according to court documents.

As of Monday, Roman-Cabezas’s medical license was still active, with no enforcement action or statement of allegations listed, according to the state Department of Health website.

Roman-Cabezas was scheduled to appear Monday morning in Yakima County Superior Court, but did not make it. Prosecutors say they’ll be issuing a warrant for Roman-Cabezas’s arrest for failing to appear in court.