Mar 5, 2015

Cody nurse charged with sexual assaulting female patient

A Cody nurse stands charged with sexually assaulting a patient while she was unconscious and undergoing surgery earlier this year.

The man was arrested Monday on a charge of first-degree sexual assault and made his first court appearance Tuesday morning in Park County Circuit Court in Cody.

The Park County Circuit Courtroom in Cody
Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters adopted the recommendation of Park County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Skoric and set the man’s bail at $75,000 cash pending further proceedings.

Charging documents say a fellow nurse caught the man with his fingers inside a female patient’s genitals during a January foot procedure.

Wyoming law protects the identity of defendants charged with sex crimes unless and until their case proceeds to District Court. As a result, the public version of the charging documents refer to the man only as “R.W.G.” and redact the name of the facility where the surgery and alleged sexual assault took place.

However, Cody News Company has independently learned the defendant is 44-year-old Robert William Guty, a registered nurse who formerly worked at Cody’s Northwest Wyoming Surgical Center.

Charging documents say the man, who Cody News Company has identified as Guty, was fired from his job after the allegations were reported and investigated at the facility.

“We take patient safety very seriously and act upon such matters immediately and appropriately. Out of respect for privacy, we do not comment on any patient-related matter, and it’s the center’s policy not to comment on any employee matters,” Northwest Wyoming Surgical Center Administrator Todd Currier said Wednesday when asked about the allegations against Guty.

“However, we can confirm that the person in question is no longer an employee with the center,” he said.

Currier added later that, “the matter in question is an isolated incident that we have taken action on.”

Guty has not yet entered a plea to the charge, but charging documents indicate he denied the allegations when Currier confronted him.

“We can confirm that the person in question is no longer an employee with the center,” said Northwest Wyoming Surgical Center Administrator Todd Currier said, adding, “the matter in question is an isolated incident that we have taken action on.”

The assault allegedly occurred in January during a routine foot procedure, according to an affidavit from Cody Police Detective Jason Stafford written in support of the criminal charge.

One of the nurses helping with the procedure “observed (Robert Guty’s) hand go under the blanket in the hip area, so she decided to lift the blanket to see what he was doing,” Stafford wrote of the woman’s account. “She told me that she observed his hand under (the patient’s) underwear and inside of her vagina. She said (Guty) pulled his hand out quickly and she witnessed his body posture drop.”

The nurse said she was so upset by what she saw that she left the operating room and began crying; she reportedly told another nurse in the facility’s locker room that “she actually saw what they have been assuming for a long time” about Guty, Stafford wrote.

According to the affidavit, three nurses who were not present for the procedure had harbored suspicions for some time that Guty was inappropriately touching female patients’ private areas.

One recalled seeing questionable contact on multiple occasions; another had started keeping a log of the things she saw and heard about Guty’s handling of patients; the third said that, because of her suspicions about Guty, she’d worn lots of extra clothing when she received medical care, Stafford wrote.

That third nurse reportedly told the detective that, while she and her co-workers had been suspicious, Guty’s hands had always been hidden under blankets, so they never had confirmation that the touching was happening.

“She said it is such a severe allegation that they wanted to be sure before saying anything,” Stafford recounted in the affidavit.

The nurse told a co-worker that “she actually saw what they have been assuming for a long time,” detective Jason Stafford wrote.

The nurses went to Currier with their concerns right after the incident allegedly witnessed in the operating room, the affidavit says.

In addition to the nurse who reported seeing Guty assaulting the patient, three other medical personnel were present for the patient’s procedure: an anesthesiologist and two additional nurses. Stafford said those three people reported seeing nothing strange; the anesthesiologist said she was focused on monitoring the patient’s vitals signs, and one nurse said she generally had her back to the patient.

Currier reportedly told police that when he confronted Guty, the nurse said he was blindsided by the allegation of the sexual touching and, when asked if he’d touched patients inappropriately, said no. Currier also reportedly told police that Guty had offered no explanation for what the other nurse had described him doing and generally was very quiet.

The Wyoming Board of Nursing's website shows Guty became a registered nurse in 2007

Guty was suspended while the center investigated the report. On the third work day following the incident, Guty was fired, and the center’s nursing director contacted the patient, the affidavit says.

Currier and the nursing director explained to the patient what they’d learned, the actions they’d taken and that it was up to her to contact law enforcement, the woman told Stafford.

The patient, who was kept unconscious with an anesthetic as part of the surgery, said she had no memory of the surgery.

“(The patient) told me that she was having a difficult time dealing with what happened to her, because it’s all she can think about,” Stafford wrote.

The charge qualifies as first-degree sexual assault, rather than second-degree, because of the allegation that the sexual intrusion occurred while the patient was physically helpless.

The affidavit says Stafford tried to interview Guty in late January, but was unsuccessful. The charge was filed Feb. 25.

Wyoming Board of Nursing records show that Guty — who owns a home between Cody and Powell — has been a registered nurse for seven years.

He is being represented by public defender Scott Kath of Powell, who didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

A preliminary hearing — where Judge Waters will determine whether there’s enough evidence for the case to proceed to District Court and towards a trial — is tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Local doctors own 60 percent of Northwest Wyoming Surgical Center, with the other 40 percent owned by West Park Hospital.


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