Nursing assistant sexually assaulted immobile patient, given 15 years in prison

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A 34-year-old Denver man who worked as a nursing aid was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for sexually assaulting an immobile woman at the Cherry Hills Health Care Center, authorities said.

Paul Bugarcic worked as a certified nursing assistant at the facility in Englewood.

Prosecutors said he sexually assaulted a woman who was being cared for at the facility who had suffered a brain injury that resulted in her not being able to communicate beyond a thumbs-up or a peace sign.

The woman’s parents placed a small camera in her room so they could help monitor her progress, said district attorney’s office spokeswoman Michelle Yi.

On two different occasions in January, they saw Bugarcic sexually assault the woman in her room, Yi said.

Bugarcic pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault in July. He agreed to a 15-year prison sentence and five years of sex offender probation afterward, Yi said.

“What was particularly alarming with this case is that the victim was truly helpless. She was unable to move to resist the defendant, and unable to speak out to tell anyone what had happened to her,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Gary Dawson in a statement. “Without the family’s videos, who knows how long this defendant would have preyed on this victim, or others in a similar condition.”

District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement that he wanted a longer prison sentence for Bugarcic.

“At the very least, this sentence ensures the defendant will not victimize anyone else in our community for the duration of his time in prison,” Brauchler said.

The victim’s family also released a statement thanking police and prosecutors.

“This whole experience has been heartbreaking,” the family said in the statement.

“For anyone with a family member in a nursing home or care facility — please consider putting a camera in the room. While the horror of this discovery will never completely subside, we know what she went through wasn’t for nothing. There are good care facilities and good people still out there. We know through what our family suffered, someone else out there might not,” the family said.

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