$13M awarded to 3 women sexually assaulted at California psych hospital

A jury awarded three women over $13 million in compensatory damages Aug. 12 for sexual assaults they endured while patients at a psychiatric hospital, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The women filed a lawsuit against Ventura, Calif.-based Aurora Vista del Mar Hospital and its parent company, Signature Healthcare Services, for allegedly hiring a mental health worker despite his history of sex crimes and failing to properly supervise him. The mental health worker, identified as Juan Valencia, worked at Aurora Vista del Mar between 2011 and 2013. He was sentenced to over six years in jail after pleading guilty in 2016 to sex crimes involving female patients.

The jury ruled against the hospital and Signature and awarded one of the three women with $6.5 million, one with $3.75 million and another with $3 million.

"We are profoundly disappointed and strongly disagree with the jury's decision," the hospital told The Los Angeles Times. "We have great empathy for the plaintiffs, but the evidence in this case was clear that there was no negligence from the hospital."

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