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Hacienda Healthcare: Former Maricopa County attorney to lead internal review

Posted at 7:01 AM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-14 20:26:52-05

PHOENIX — The Hacienda Healthcare Board of Directors has hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an internal review after a patient was impregnated at their facility.

FULL SECTION: Hacienda Healthcare Investigation

Addressed the media Monday, Romley said his review will focus on patient-security procedures and management practices to ensure patients don't suffer harm in the future.

"They gave me assurances that they wanted to not just find out what happened, but they (also) wanted to correct the situation," he said. Watch the full announcement in the player below.

The 29-year-old victim has been in Hacienda's care since she became incapacitated at age 3 after suffering a near-drowning. She gave birth Dec. 29. The child will be taken in by the mother's family.

The sexual assault has triggered not only a police investigation but reviews by state regulatory agencies.

RELATED: Rick Romley helped ABC15 uncover sex assault problems at Arizona State Hospital

Hacienda CEO Bill Timmons resigned a week ago after news surfaced of the sexual assault.

A nurse who cared for the victim during her delivery said in a 911 call that she was unaware that the patient was pregnant. Investigators are gathering DNA from all men who worked at the facility.

A lawyer representing the victim's family has said the family was outraged at the "neglect of their daughter."

Unlike police, Romley will not have subpoena power to force employees to give DNA samples. Still, he said he would encourage any employee to cooperate with investigators.

Romley said he made it clear to Hacienda's board that he will not bury any wrongdoing he may uncover. "I call it as I see it, and if not, I walk away," Romley said.

Romley said his review will include examining how visitors enter Hacienda's buildings, whether doors are locked, reviewing safety audits and complaints, and trying to speak with the chief executive who recently quit. The former prosecutor also said he will ask doctors who cared for the victim why they didn't know sooner that she was pregnant.

Romley is known for leading a team of prosecutors who pressed cases against Catholic priests in a sex abuse scandal about 15 years ago.

The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile" or have developmental disabilities, according to its website.

The Board released a full statement:

The Board, leadership and employees of Hacienda HealthCare remain fully committed to determining exactly what happened to a patient entrusted to our care. To ensure a comprehensive, objective and transparent review of the facts of this deeply disturbing matter, the Board has hired respected former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an exhaustive internal review.

Mr. Romley will have unfettered access to every facet of Hacienda's business - including all the records related to this matter and all the operational procedures related to the ICF-ID unit. We will do everything we can to aid this review and, once it is complete, to make sure this unprecedented situation never, ever happens again.

Additionally, we will continue to cooperate fully with the Phoenix Police and the agencies investigating this matter. As an organization, our top priority is to quickly identify the perpetrator and to make sure that person is brought to justice.