Convicted rapist kept nursing license for 19 months

DENVER -- Benjamin Offei was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to one year in jail, 10 years probation and a lifetime on the state's sex offender registry.  The 38-year-old former nursing supervisor was convicted in early August for raping a female subordinate in his office.

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The crime took place in December at the Cherry Creek Nursing Center (14699 E. Hampden Ave.) in Aurora.

Offei was arrested a month later and at that time was supposed to self-report his arrest to the state nursing board but didn't.

Neither did his bosses at the Cherry Creek Nursing Center, though a spokesman for the Division of Professions and Occupations told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that state law mandates an employer report any discipline taken against a nurse or a resignation made in lieu of discipline.

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A few weeks before his sentencing, Offei claimed he thought the sex was consensual though he accepted the jury's verdict that it wasn't.

"It wasn't a good decision on my part, you know, to have that relationship at work so I think I feel so sorry about what has happened and I regret it," Offei said.

His victim told police there was nothing consensual about the attack.

"While inside Offei's Office, he without provocation sat down on her lap and began kissing her on the mouth ... when she protested and stood up to pull away from him. ... Benjamin Offei then backed her against a wall, pinned her there and forced" himself onto her, according to the arrest affidavit.

Offei said he quit working at the nursing home but admitted he didn't self-report his arrest to the State Nursing Board as Colorado law requires.

That concerns State Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, who sponsored House Bill 1160 last year that now requires fingerprinting and background checks for surgical technicians.

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State Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins

She was motivated after former surgical tech Rocky Allen was fired from Swedish Medical Center for stealing the painkiller fentanyl from the operating room.

The Division of Professions and Occupations under the Department of Regulatory Agencies plans to ask lawmakers in the next legislative session for the ability to perform background checks on other health care professionals, including doctors and nurses.

"I think we should move to something in that effect only to protect innocent people," Ginal said.

In the case of Offei, it wasn't until the Problem Solvers contacted DORA on Aug. 11 that a day later the State Nursing Board held an emergency hearing to suspend Offei's license.

RELATED: State Nursing Board decision to suspend Offei's license

The order reads "that Benjamin Offei, R.N., immediately cease, desist, and refrain from any further acts for which a license to practice as a professional nurse is required."

When asked if he understood why his victim felt he should never be a nurse again, Offei said, "Man, that is inappropriate. I mean people make mistakes in life and I think that people deserve a second chance."

Cherry Creek Nursing Center has not responded to repeated efforts to find out why administrators didn't report Offei to the State Nursing Board.  While the law mandates reporting requirements, it doesn't outline any punishment for employers who don't follow the law.

In the meantime, the Division of Professions and Occupations wants to create a system that notifies state regulators when a nurse or doctor is arrested, so it doesn't have to rely on a news reporter or self-reporting, when a health care professional gets in trouble with the law.