Health Department Fines Coney Island Hospital $46,000 for Deficiencies in Sex Assault Case
Hospital Failed to Provide Police with Proper Rape Kit; Results in Lack of DNA Evidence Against a Serial Sexual Predator
New York City, July 26, 2000 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H. was joined by Katherine N. Lapp, New York State Director of Criminal Justice, today to announce that Coney Island Hospital will be fined $46,000 and must hire a consultant to review and improve their policies related to services provided to patients who have been sexually assaulted. Director Lapp attended to emphasize the critical importance of the proper collection of biological material in providing DNA evidence to prosecute sexual predators. She noted that in this case the rape kit delivered to the Office of the Medical Examiner contained no usable samples.
Dr. Novello pointed to an alarming number of deficiencies related to the hospital's handling of a sexual assault victim in the ER. Dr. Novello said, "The deficiencies identified during our investigation included the victim waiting over three hours for consultation, an inadequate rape kit, improper and no collection of critical evidence, inappropriate dosage of emergency contraception, lack of proper credentialing in the emergency room, and an inadequate follow–up plan to care for the victim of a sexual attack."
"When a woman goes to a hospital after being sexually assaulted, it is imperative that she not only receive proper health care, but that she also be treated with respect and understanding. In this instance, Coney Island Hospital provided none of the above. I want all women to know that this Administration will not tolerate inappropriate care of anyone in need, especially when it involves a woman who has been devastated by a sexual assault," Dr. Novello said. "If a hospital acts with such carelessness, the Health Department will take swift and appropriate action to ensure the situation is rectified immediately. What happened at Coney Island Hospital should never have happened, and if this Department has anything to say about it, it will not ever happen again."
Director Lapp said that when procedures and protocols regarding the collection of DNA evidence are not followed, it could lead to devastating results in the courtroom. She called Anthony Jones, the convicted perpetrator of this heinous crime, a "career sexual predator."
Jones' record includes a 1978 conviction in Arizona for Rape in the 1st Degree in which a woman was raped and stabbed repeatedly, and one of her fingers was cut off. He was also convicted in 1990 of Sexual Abuse in the 1st Degree in the attack of an elderly woman in the basement of a Manhattan church. He was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison. The latest victim was attacked on July 17, 1999, the day after Jones was released from Great Meadow prison, where he was serving an 18 month to 3 year sentence for a 1995 Burglary conviction, plus time he still owed from a previous conviction. He was twice denied parole because he did not attend therapeutic sex–offender counseling and because he had attempted to solicit sex from another inmate.
Because Coney Island Hospital did not follow well–established protocols related to the gathering of evidence in this, his third sexual assault case, a serial sexual predator, who could have received a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if he had been convicted of Rape in the 1st Degree, was sentenced instead to two or four years in prison on one count of 2nd Degree Attempted Assault. Jones is now at Eastern Correctional facility in Napanoch, Ulster County. His first parole eligibility date is July 11, 2001.
Director Lapp said, "In a case like this everyone loses. This woman was victimized twice, once by the perpetrator and again by the hospital. Society loses because this deviant will be back on the streets in less than four years. And, the criminal justice system loses because a hospital did not follow proper protocols. The only winner when proper procedures are not followed and evidence is not secured is the perpetrator, in this case a career criminal whose record reveals a serial sexual deviant who preys on women. Because of Coney Island Hospital's mistreatment of the victim and mishandling of the evidence, Anthony Jones will be back on the streets in less than four years. That is unconscionable.
"The other very disturbing fact in this case, is that if we had Mr. Jones' DNA profile we could have entered it into the State's DNA Databank to see if it matched any evidence we have from unsolved cases. Serial criminals often commit many more crimes than that of which they are charged. It is possible that we could have gotten a match in another unsolved rape or sexual assault case had Jones' DNA profile been available."
As a result of the State Health Department's investigation, the Department cited Coney Island Hospital for 23 violations, resulting in fines totaling $46,000. The proposed fines amount to $2,000 per violation, the maximum monetary penalty allowable under State law. The hospital will also be required to submit a Plan of Correction (POC) describing how each of the identified deficiencies will be addressed, and what corrective action will be taken.
To correct the deficiencies identified during the State's investigation; the hospital must obtain an independent consultant organization, acceptable to the State Health Department, to conduct an in–depth analysis of the management, oversight and operation of the Emergency Department. In addition to assessing the system for identifying variance in case and practice, the consultant organization should also assess oversight mechanisms for assuring follow through on corrective actions and program improvements.
The analysis must produce a detailed report and recommendations for improvement for each of these activities, which must be provided to the Hospital's Board of Directors within 90 days. Once the hospital receives either consultant's report, recommendations must be implemented within 30 days, providing they are acceptable to the Health Department.
The hospital will also be required to submit quarterly reports to the Department for a period of one year commencing with the effective date of the Stipulation and Order. These reports shall detail activities undertaken to implement corrective actions and the assessment of the effectiveness of those corrective measures.
In a letter dated July 25, 2000, to Coney Island Hospital, the Health Department cited 23 violations of Article 28 of the Public Health Law and the New York State Health facilities code. Deficiencies were cited in the areas of: Governing Body, Medical Staff, Nursing Services, Quality Assurance Program, Patients' Rights, Admission and Discharge, Laboratory Services, Emergency Services, and Social Services.
Specifically, the Department's investigation found:
- The patient that had reported sexual assault had been triaged as urgent at 8:50 a.m., but did not receive gynecological consultation until more than three hours later.
- The hospital's rape kit evidence was missing critical information, including no vaginal envelope; no underwear collection; no debris envelope; no dried secretions envelope; and empty saliva and anal envelopes.
- Improper collection of chlamydia sample.
- No collection of a trichomonas sample.
- Urine toxicology test not processed by the laboratory.
- Second dose of emergency contraception not provided.
- Some residents working in the Emergency Room were not credentialed or trained to use the rape kit or in proper collection of chlamydia samples.
- No plan for follow–up care, no information obtained on how to contact the patient.