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Failure of L.A. County safeguards let convicted rapist work at clinic

If Los Angeles County had followed procedures, a health department official says, Gariner Beasley would not have returned to work as an X-ray technologist.

February 08, 2009|Garrett Therolf

A breakdown in county procedures meant to protect patients and ensure standards for health professionals allowed a temporary employment agency to send a convicted rapist to work at a large East Los Angeles clinic, according to the head of Los Angeles County's health department.

John Schunhoff, interim director of the Department of Health Services, said three key safeguards failed when an X-ray technologist who had been fired returned to work in a county facility:

* County managers didn't check the man against their own internal "do not send" list, which is supposed to be used for temporary hires.

* No one ran a new criminal background check, despite county policy requiring it.

* The X-ray technologist was not issued identification he should have needed to clear security checkpoints at the Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center and to work in restricted areas, another required check that should have turned up his troubled history with the county.

If any of those steps had been taken, Schunhoff said, the county would have realized that Gariner Beasley, 48, was back in county scrubs despite his dismissal last August from the Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center in Willowbrook.

"It's very outrageous," Schunhoff said.

County officials became aware that Beasley -- who pleaded no contest to raping two women under color of authority while on duty as a Los Angeles police officer in the early 1990s -- was working at the Roybal clinic only when someone alerted them after reading an article about his case in The Times last weekend.

The Times reported that Beasley had been sentenced to three years in prison and was hired by the county four years after he was paroled in January 1994.

The year he was paroled, the city of Los Angeles paid his two victims $290,000 in civil settlements, according to court records.

County officials acted Tuesday to remove him from their facility.

Beasley, Schunhoff said, had been working for a month at the clinic as an X-ray technologist, the same position from which he was terminated last August. He began working at the Roybal clinic through Woodland Hills-based Mediscan Staffing Services, which contracts with the county to place health workers.

It was at that point that safeguards began breaking down, Schunhoff said.

County policy required Beasley's supervisor to send him to the human resources office for review before putting him to work, but that was not done, Schunhoff said. The supervisor of the clinic's radiology department has been placed on administrative leave and faces disciplinary action, according to employees at the clinic.

Schunhoff said county officials are also trying to determine why no one at the clinic noticed that Beasley was working without a security badge.

Beasley's placement at Roybal put him back into a job county officials had called incompatible with his criminal record when they fired him. His termination letter in August noted that keeping him on the county payroll "may very well potentially expose the county to liability and unnecessary scrutiny . . . and could jeopardize our health facilities' licensing/accreditation."

Schunhoff said department officials want to find out why Mediscan's criminal background procedures required under its county contract did not flag Beasley.

It was not clear if Beasley, who disclosed his criminal history when he was hired by County-USC Medical Center officials in 1998, again disclosed his convictions when he registered with Mediscan.

Mediscan, which provides scores of employees to the Department of Health Services, declined to comment. The head of the company's radiology unit, who identified herself only as Anna, asked in a brief telephone interview: "Do I really have to answer these questions you have?"

Beasley, according to county records, had worked in county hospitals for a decade with no history of disciplinary problems. His name became public when he appealed his initial termination. When Beasley was terminated, Christopher Arevalo, then interim chief executive at King, wrote that county managers erred repeatedly in keeping him in a job that left him alone and unsupervised with patients in "very vulnerable and compromised positions."

Beasley and at least 18 others were dismissed last year, about a month after The Times reported that an audit at the now-shuttered hospital found widespread criminal histories among workers. County records show that Beasley was convicted of domestic violence while working for the county, in addition to the rape convictions that predate his county employment.

The domestic violence conviction was later expunged and his attorney, Marvin Mathis, said the woman was equally at fault.

Schunhoff said late last week that he does not know if any other temporary employees are working in county health positions without review by the county's human resources department.

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