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L.A. County rehired convicted rapist after firing him

Radiological technologist Gariner Beasley, who had been fired from Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in August, had been working at a health clinic in East L.A. He was fired Tuesday.

February 05, 2009|Garrett Therolf

A convicted rapist fired in August from his job as a county hospital X-ray technologist was rehired by county managers through a contractor a short time later to do the same work at an East Los Angeles health clinic, officials acknowledged Wednesday.

Gariner Beasley, 48, was fired again Tuesday and escorted from the Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center, said county Supervisor Gloria Molina.

County officials struggled Wednesday to explain how they had rehired a man they fired in August, calling his criminal record incompatible with a job that required he work alone with patients in "very vulnerable and compromised positions."

"There will be some heads rolling on this one," said Molina, whose district includes the clinic where Beasley was working. "This is totally shocking. It really shocks all of your sensibilities because we are supposed to be serving and protecting the patients of Los Angeles County."

The fact that Beasley reappeared in county scrubs after county officials dismissed him raises even more questions about the county health department's vetting of hires and casts new doubt on the ability of the Board of Supervisors to reform the long-troubled Department of Health Services.

The Times reported Saturday that Beasley -- whose name became public when he appealed his initial termination -- was hired by county officials a decade ago despite disclosing his convictions for rape.

Beasley pleaded no contest to raping two women under color of authority while on duty and in uniform as an LAPD officer in the early 1990s. His actions cost the city of Los Angeles $290,000 in civil settlements for his victims.

Beasley's initial firing came a month after The Times first reported that an audit had found widespread criminal histories among workers at Martin Luther King Jr.- Harbor Hospital.

His second firing came just hours after details of his case were discussed at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

What board members did not know at the time was that even as they met to publicly address his employment history, Beasley was at work at the East L.A. clinic, which provides primary and specialty services for 21,000 patients annually.

It was not until late Tuesday afternoon that Health Services Interim Director John Schunhoff learned that Beasley was still working for the county and ordered him fired again, Molina said.

In the letter terminating Beasley in August, Christopher Arevalo, then-interim chief executive at King-Harbor, said his very employment "may very well potentially expose the county to liability and unnecessary scrutiny . . . and could jeopardize our health facilities' licensing/accreditation."

Arevalo -- who acknowledged in the letter that Beasley had no documented disciplinary problems in his record -- said that county officials had repeatedly erred in overlooking Beasley's criminal history. In addition to issues with his criminal history, the letter noted that Beasley had worked for several days in July 2008 despite having let his license as a radiological technologist expire.

County officials said Wednesday that Beasley returned to the county through an outside contractor who provides temporary employees. Los Angeles County's chief executive, William T Fujioka, declined to name the agency.

"I have a three-person team over there investigating," Fujioka said, declining to provide additional details. "I have to get all the facts together before I start talking about this."

Molina said the investigation would focus on the outside contractor who provided Beasley's name to the county for temporary employment, the county officials who apparently failed to ensure that his criminal history was checked and security officials who may have issued him a badge to enter the Roybal clinic.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich said, "County staff who knowingly approve hiring without criminal background checks -- in direct violation of the procedures adopted by the Board of Supervisors -- are jeopardizing the public's safety and should be fired."

It was not immediately clear if Beasley disclosed his criminal history to the agency that placed him in the county health center. It was also not clear when he began working at Roybal.

Beasley's attorney, Marvin Mathis, declined to respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

In an earlier interview, he said Beasley was pursuing an appeals procedure to be reinstated to his permanent position with the county because of his positive work evaluations.

"It's just a tragedy. He was a go-to person for the department. They knew about his history. Every time he was promoted or transferred, he filled out an application and disclosed it. There was a discussion each time," Mathis told The Times.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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