Los Angeles

Alleged Sex Assault Victims Relieved Fugitive is Back in Custody

Ramon Gaspar was captured in Guatemala and was extradited to Los Angeles

A former nursing assistant who was extradited from his native Guatemala to face charges of sexually abusing eight female patients at a Tarzana hospital is due in a Van Nuys courtroom Friday, while two of his alleged victims expressed relief that he is back in custody.

Ramon Eduardo Rodas Gaspar, 48, had been a fugitive since he failed to appear in court for a July 2006 hearing, nearly a month after a $150,000 bond was posted on his behalf.

Gaspar was arrested Feb. 13 in Guatemala and extradited back to Los Angeles last Friday, according to Deputy District Attorney Cindy Waterman with the Extradition Services Section.

Gaspar was initially charged with three counts involving two alleged victims at what was then known as Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center. He was subsequently charged with counts involving six other alleged victims at the hospital, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

He is facing seven counts of sexual battery by fraud, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and three counts of sexual battery on an institutionalized victim, according to the District Attorney's Office.

All of the charges are felonies. The criminal complaint alleges that the crimes occurred between January 2005 and April 2006. Former patients reported being sexually assaulted by Gaspar after surgery, some while still under the effects of anesthesia, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, which began an investigation in June 2006.

On Thursday, two alleged victims told reporters at the LAPD's West Valley Station they had waited 10 long years for news of Gaspar's re-capture.

"For so many years, I waited and waited for that call to come and I pleaded for that call to come," alleged victim Courtney R. said. "I picked it up and I heard, 'I've been waiting 10 years to place this call.' And I just started crying."

Courtney was the first woman to come forward.

She said Gaspar assaulted her just before she was released from the hospital. "You know I was sick, I was in pain," she said. "He had scrubs on. He had a badge so you know the things he was doing made sense at that time. Until finally, upon discharge, is when he actually committed the sexual assault. I realized what had happened and I went to the LAPD."

LAPD Detective Ninette Toosbuy said she remained determined to bring Gaspar to justice over the past decade, vowing that she wouldn't retire until he was found and returned to Los Angeles.

She said his crimes were particularly egregious because he was in a position of trust.

"It's one of the few professions where that professional can tell you to undress. 'Please disrobe for me because I need to examine you,'" Toosbuy said. "And we do it without question. Why? Because we trust them."

Alleged victim Anna B. told reporters she was assaulted in a shower.

"It was my first shower. I hadn't been able to bathe for days," she said. "I was so relieved to get out of my bed and be able to shower. And that's where it occurred (at) that time."

Gaspar -- who worked at the hospital for about two years -- was arrested June 15, 2006, and booked on suspicion of three felony counts of sexual assault.

Several additional alleged victims came forward after police issued a news release about Gaspar on July 7, 2006, resulting in additional charges being filed against him, police said.

Gaspar skipped bail soon afterward and disappeared with his wife and 6- year-old son, according to the LAPD.

The case was featured on the Fox Broadcasting series "America's Most Wanted" and investigators learned Gaspar had fled to Guatemala. He is being held without bail.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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