A former nurse at a Colorado hospital has been charged with sexually abusing female patients while they were unconscious and with recording the assaults on video, the police said.
The former nurse, Christopher P. Lambros, 61, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, according to the Grand Junction Police Department. He worked for 10 years at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, which is about 130 miles west of Aspen, until he was fired after his arrest in October, the hospital said.
The authorities have recovered about four terabytes of data — the equivalent of about 700,000 cellphone photos or about 65,000 hours of video — from Mr. Lambros’s devices, according to a class-action lawsuit against the hospital and the nonprofit organization that operates it. The suit was filed on behalf of two patients who said they were abused by Mr. Lambros.
The evidence, which includes sexually explicit videos, shows that Mr. Lambros’s sexual misconduct dates back to at least 2016, the lawsuit said.
Daniel P. Rubinstein, the Mesa County district attorney, said that Mr. Lambros had been charged with sexually assaulting two female patients and that prosecutors planned to “add more counts to one of the victims, and more victims,” once the investigation was completed.
Mr. Lambros, who was arrested on Oct. 25, has not yet entered a plea and remains in jail on $1 million bond, Mr. Rubinstein said. Mr. Lambros’s lawyer, Scott Burrill, who is with the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, could not be immediately reached at phone numbers listed under his name on Saturday. The office says on its website that its policy is to not comment on criminal cases.
Intermountain Healthcare, the nonprofit organization that operates St. Mary’s Medical Center, said in a statement that the “safety of our patients is our highest priority, and we take this matter very seriously.”
“We have zero tolerance for anyone who engages in the abuse or mistreatment of our patients,” the statement said. “Immediately following the reported concern, the hospital placed Chris Lambros on administrative leave, removed his access to the hospital and patients and reported the matter to local law enforcement.”
The police said that officers had been dispatched on July 9 to St. Mary’s for a report of “potential sexual misconduct” after someone at the hospital had seen Mr. Lambros taking photos of a female patient’s genitals while she was unconscious in the intensive care unit.
A witness told the police that Mr. Lambros had placed his head on the woman’s stomach and was holding a phone in an outstretched arm as if he was taking a “selfie,” according to an arrest warrant.
When the witness entered the room, Mr. Lambros dropped the phone and covered the patient with a gown and a blanket, according to the warrant. The witness notified a supervisor.
Mr. Lambros later told the police that he was giving the patient an injection for blood clots in the stomach area, and he denied taking any pictures, the warrant said.
Investigators later executed a search warrant on Mr. Lambros’s phone and found videos and photos of him “posing with a number of victims” who were unconscious in the hospital, according to the warrant. Videos recovered show him sexually assaulting female patients, the warrant said.
In one video, Mr. Lambros can be heard whispering to the camera, saying “Don’t ever get rid of these videos,” “You need to keep them forever,” and “This is your Dexter collection,” according to the warrant. “Dexter” is the name of a television show about a serial killer who keeps trophies of his victims.
Mr. Lambros’s nursing license was suspended in November, according to state records.
The lawsuit said the hospital failed to identify warning signs that Mr. Lambros was sexually assaulting patients and that it did not have enough safeguards in place to ensure patient safety or to track medication that was dispensed.
Patients under Mr. Lambros’s care were often unconscious when it served no legitimate medical purpose, the lawsuit said, adding that Mr. Lambros “possessed and administered an unusually high volume of medications to patients.” The lawsuit does not specifically name the drugs that Mr. Lambros used, but it says that he used medications to render at least two victims unconscious.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Lambros was not allowed to administer sedatives without a physician’s order, and the medication should have been logged in hospital records. He also drugged and assaulted patients in view of surveillance cameras, according to the suit, which was filed on Dec. 20.
Intermountain said in an email that St. Mary’s Medical Center did not use security cameras in patient rooms. The hospital uses “nonrecording, livestreaming-enabled cameras” as part of a telehealth program that lets critical care nurses check on patients remotely, Intermountain said.
Bryan Johnson, the hospital’s president, said in a statement that the hospital was “working closely with law enforcement to protect our patients from those who intend to cause harm.”
“What this former nurse is accused of is reprehensible and goes against everything we believe and value at St. Mary’s Medical Center,” Mr. Johnson said. “Patients put their trust in us and should feel safe in our care.”