July 19, 2019

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Two Cases of Sexual Assault by Paramedics

EMT

A firefighter and paramedic in Wisconsin was arrested last month for molesting a woman he was supposed to be caring for. The event occurred in an ambulance as it made its way to the hospital. Clifford Heiser, the perpetrator, resigned from his post soon thereafter. In addition to touching the 29-year old woman’s genitals, he also groped and sucked her breasts. And in Mississippi an EMT was arrested for assaulting a woman (Jane Doe) in the midst of a drug overdose. Jane Doe filed a lawsuit, claiming that the hospital failed to provide adequate training to Bryan Englebert, the EMT responsible for the assault.

Heisler Confirmed

Heiser was reported to authorities by the violated passenger on September 13th, after which the fire department suspended him. Local police confirmed Heiser’s act after they found matching DNA on the woman’s body. According to the criminal complaint filed against Hesier, his saliva was discovered on the passenger’s right breast. “The offender had his DNA on her and that was confirmed by the Wisconsin State Crime Lab,” Wasau Police reportedly said.

Released

After his arrest, Heiser was released from jail after he paid $2,500 of his $25,000 bail bond. Additionally, he now faces one third degree sexual assault charge and one public office misconduct charge. He also faces two lesser charges for fourth degree sexual assault.

Response

The local fire department has indicated that it might start putting video cameras in the ambulances in order to avoid similar forms of abuse. “We realize that we have violated the trust of our community, but are going to work diligently to regain and repair that trust,” Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa said.

When asked whether there was any motive for the crime, Deputy Police Chief Ben Bliven declined to go into great detail but mentioned that there was no evidence of previous relations between Heiser and the passenger.

Jane Doe’s Complaint

Englebert, the assailant responsible for assaulting Jane Doe, pleaded guilty for fondling a vulnerable person, resulting in his being imprisoned for five years. Englebert also recorded the event on his phone while they made their way to a mental health facility nearly 100 miles from their initial location.

Jane Doe filed her complaint against Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi Inc., the facility that employed Englebert and that, according to Doe, failed to train him properly. As explained in the complaint, the woman had been at Baptist Memorial for overdose treatment, but after she expressed suicidal thoughts she was forced into a 72-hour psychiatric hold. At a certain point, the hospital decided to transfer her to a behavioral health facility named Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle.

During the drive to Golden Triangle, Englebert sexually battered Jane Doe, who is described in the complaint as “a vulnerable adult” with a history of mental health issues and substance abuse. The complaint goes on to suggest that Matthew Austin, the ambulance driver, filmed some of the event with his cell phone.

The Allegations

At bottom, there is the issue of the hospital’s negligence. Baptist Memorial failed to implement “adequate policies and procedures to protect persons […] during ambulance transport.” Additionally, Jane Doe accuses the hospital of failing to train and supervise the two employees listed in the complaint.

The plaintiff specifically seeks compensation for injuries, extreme emotional distress and mental disability caused by a breach of duty on the part of the hospital. Additionally, she seeks retribution for resultant medical bills and punitive damages.

Criminal Justice

According to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, “Sexual abuse of vulnerable persons will not be tolerated.” He continued, “This office will vigorously prosecute these cases when they occur.” Englebert was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but 10 of those years were suspended. After his release, the former EMT will be subject to five years of supervision as a registered sex offender. He must also pay $500 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund in addition to paying a $2,400 fine.

About Sean Lally

Sean Lally holds a BA in Philosophy from Temple University where he also studied theatre for several years. Between 2007 and 2017, he worked as a professional actor for several regional theater companies in Philadelphia, including the Arden Theatre Co., EgoPo Productions, Lantern Theater and the Bearded Ladies. In 2010, Sean co-founded Found Theater Company, an avant-garde artist collective with whom he first started to cultivate an identity as a writer.

Over the past few years, Sean has been working as a content writer, focusing primarily on the ways in which unequal power distribution can negatively affect consumers, workers and “everyday people,” more broadly. He writes for a number of websites including AccidentAttorneys.org, PersonalInjury.com, AmericanLegalNews.com and others.