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Hacienda Healthcare: Former CEO Bill Timmons previously accused of sexual harassment, board says

Posted at 3:33 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 17:42:08-05

PHOENIX — The former CEO of Hacienda Healthcare has a history of facing sexual harassment allegations, according to a Hacienda board member.

Chairman of the Board, Tom Pomeroy, released a statement Friday, saying Timmons faced "serious consequences" for his actions, but was ultimately allowed to keep his position as CEO.

Bill Timmons served as the CEO of Hacienda Healthcare for nearly 30 years. Beginning in 2006 and again in subsequent years, the Hacienda Board of Directors in place at the time was alerted to accusations that several employees felt sexually harassed or treated poorly by Timmons. Board members alerted to these allegations took them seriously. To investigate the most serious claims, the Board hired employment law attorneys who specialize in harassment cases.

Ultimately, the Board reprimanded Timmons and also enforced serious consequences for his conduct. According to Board members in office at the time, corrective action included counseling and more than 30 training sessions in a number of areas. Timmons was also forced to forego financial bonuses and raises.

Timmons resigned from Hacienda after a tragic incident that has shaken the company and the current Board to its core. There is no excuse for what happened to a resident of Hacienda's Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled, nor have we sought to make excuses. Rather, the Board, Hacienda's new CEO and our team is doing everything possible to make certain such an incident never happens again.

In the wake of Timmons' resignation, people have raised the question of whether he should have been fired years ago. While in hindsight it may appear to be an easy call, it was not that simple in the moment. While Timmons attracted controversy and detractors, his years-long advocacy for Hacienda's clients and their families helped fuel the growth of the company and increase its ability to change lives for the better.

Regardless, no amount of success changes one critical fact: What happened at Hacienda should never have happened - and can never happen again.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, a nurse at the long-term healthcare facility, has been accused of raping an incapacitated patient, weeks after the woman stunned her caregivers and family by giving birth to a baby boy, Phoenix police said earlier this week. Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse, is being held on suspicion of one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey weighed in on the Hacienda Healthcare investigation.

In a series of tweets published Friday morning, the governor called for the termination of senior leadership at the healthcare facility.

RELATED: Man arrested in Hacienda sex assault case voluntarily surrenders nursing license

"The senior leadership in that enterprise needs to be completely replaced," Ducey wrote. "That includes the Board of Directors, every one of whom should be terminated immediately."

He also stated he has "zero confidence" in the facility's leadership.

FULL COVERAGE: Hacienda Healthcare Investigation

"My confidence level in that institution and its leadership is zero, and our job now is to ensure that the individuals in their facilities are safe," Ducey continued.

In response to the governor's tweets, Hacienda HealthCare stated they have agreed to the State of Arizona's "request to have a third-party management team in place to oversee patient care and daily operations."

The third-party managers should begin full oversight Wednesday, January 30, according to Hacienda Healthcare.

The health care provider said it's already following the state's request for an outside team to manage patient care and operations, which will be in place next week.

They also hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an independent review into how the rape could have happened. "These are not cosmetic changes," board Chairman Tom Pomeroy said in a statement.

"Rather, this organization intends to do everything in our power to restore its credibility with our patients, their families, the public and Gov. Ducey."

Police arrested Sutherland after they say his DNA matched the newborn boy. Sutherland was booked on one count each of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse. An online database shows Sutherland on Friday voluntarily surrendered his nursing license, which was set to expire in 2020.

Meanwhile, authorities say the baby is out of the hospital and doing well but did not release details. The woman's family has said it would care for the boy.