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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Assaulted Teen Blames Hospital for Inaction

(CN) - A hospital staffer sexually harassed and eventually assaulted the teenage intern he was supposed to mentor, the young man claims in federal court.

While attending Health Sciences High & Middle College, C.Z. says he received special training intended to work in health care.

C.Z. unfortunately got more than a learning experience during his internship at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, according to the complaint in Superior Court. Courthouse News has abbreviated the plaintiff's name out of consideration of his privacy.

Instead of mentoring the 17-year-old, anesthesiologist David Hicks allegedly tried to talk with him about adult, sexual issues. In March 2012, Hicks began showing C.Z. various rooms of the hospital where he claimed male employees went to receive "blowjobs," according to the complaint.

C.Z. says Hicks then began hugging him at the end of his shifts, grabbing his backside and complimenting his "nice ass." In the ensuing weeks, Hicks also showed C.Z. a sexually explicit video on his phone of two men having sex, according to the complaint.

"[C.Z.] felt extremely uncomfortable and wondered why Hicks would show him the video since [C.Z.] had told Hicks that he was straight and was attracted to women," the complaint states.

Hicks allegedly followed up by sending C.Z. text messages containing words with double meanings, such as "cum" in place of the word "come."

C.Z. says the situation spiraled out of control on April 13, just a few days after his 18th birthday.

On this date, Hicks, who is over 50, asked C.Z. to meet him at a local McDonald's, according to the complaint. C.Z. says the invitation turned out to be a rouse meant to lure him into Hicks' apartment a short distance away.

Inside his apartment, Hicks, whom C.Z. describes as "very large and imposing," showed the teen his sex toys, undressed the dazed student and began performing oral sex, "but not to completion," according to the complaint.

"Fortunately someone called Hicks on his phone and [C.Z.] told Hicks he had to go to a 'rehearsal' and left the premises as quickly as he could," the complaint states. "The entire experience was an unwanted sexual assault on [C.Z.] by Hicks."

C.Z. says that he was intimidated, embarrassed and afraid he would bit be allowed to finish his internship if he reported Hicks. Two days after the incident in Hicks' apartment, however, C.Z. allegedly "worked up the courage" to tell his parents what had happened.

C.Z.'s mother reported the situation to Health Sciences High, which allegedly promised to "discuss the matter" with Sharp Memorial, but nothing happened, according to the complaint. Two days later, the mother allegedly reported the assault directly to the hospital, which interviewed C.Z. three days after that. Sharp Memorial terminated Hicks' employment on April 24, according to the complaint.

"Sharp Memorial failed to communicate to interns such as [C.Z.] regarding sexual harassment," the complaint alleges. "Sharp Memorial knew that employees had engaged in sex acts on its premises."

Despite this alleged knowledge, Sharp Memorial allowed minors to works there as interns and "did nothing to educate or warn its young interns about issues related to identifying or reporting sexual harassment."

It also failed to supervise interns properly, allowing them to be "supervised/managed by anybody," according to the complaint.

C.Z. also claims Sharp Memorial "has had numerous complaints of sexual harassment in the past and still failed to adequately provide sexual harassment training to interns such as plaintiff, or to properly and adequately monitor and manage the intern program to make sure interns were being protected from harms such as those resulting from sexual harassment."

Health Sciences High had at least one prior incident involving verbal sexual harassment of a female student, but "failed to institute sexual harassment training for the interns and internship program after having knowledge of prior incidents," the complaint states.

C.Z. says Sharp Memorial now claims to have instituted sexual-harassment training for interns in the wake of his experience.

In addition to sexual-harassment charges, C.Z. alleges claims of hostile work environment, sexual battery and assault, and negligence. Health Sciences High, Sharp Memorial and Hicks are all named as defendants.

Joel Larabee represents the teen.

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