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Rapist worked at L.A. County hospitals despite reviews of record

X-ray technician was allowed to work alone with female patients at two medical facilities although managers knew about his criminal past, public documents show.

January 31, 2009|Garrett Therolf

A man who raped women as an on-duty Los Angeles police officer, threatening them with arrest and jail if they did not submit, was hired by Los Angeles County as an X-ray technologist after he got out of prison, even though the job would leave him working alone and unsupervised with female patients.

His hiring at County-USC Medical Center a decade ago was not an oversight.

The man -- whose actions cost the city of Los Angeles nearly $300,000 in settlements for his victims -- disclosed his criminal history in his county job application. Both the head of hospital human resources and a chief aide then signed papers that said there was no reason his convictions for rape should prevent him from doing the job, according to newly obtained records and interviews.

It would not be the last time managers in the county health department would evaluate his criminal record. Each time he was promoted, someone at a management level reviewed his history. It was reviewed again in 2004, when he transferred to Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, then known as Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

County officials quietly fired Gariner Beasley, 48, last August -- a month after The Times uncovered the widespread incidence of serious criminal histories among King's staff -- saying managers had erred repeatedly in allowing him to be hired and remain on the job.

The employment of a convicted rapist at a hospital indicates a significant breakdown in the county's vetting of health department staffers, county officials said. Perhaps most seriously, it raises questions about how many more county employees have criminal histories incompatible with their jobs, something county supervisors have yet to address.

"We had real pinheads working for us," said Supervisor Gloria Molina, referring to managers who cleared the hires. The county , including Beasley, after the findings became public.

Details of his case were obtained by The Times after Beasley, who had no record of disciplinary problems as a county employee, appealed his termination from his $73,000-a-year job and his name became public. The disclosure of his identity allowed the first in-depth look at any of the 152 workers found to have criminal histories at King.

When The Times reported that 11% of employees undergoing new background checks had criminal histories, Los Angeles County supervisors portrayed the management breakdown as isolated to King. They offered only scant details of the offenses and blocked repeated efforts by The Times to obtain records identifying the crimes and job titles held by the former offenders, citing the employees' privacy rights.

But Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who took office in December, said the fact that Beasley was initially hired by County-USC officials demonstrated "systemic" failings. He said county officials need to think hard about whether the criminal histories of employees at all health facilities need to be reexamined.

"The public is right to expect the highest level of care at the county health facilities," Ridley-Thomas said, adding that he believes that county officials, to the fullest extent possible, should release information about the jobs and crimes of known offenders.

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Beasley's history

The large-scale review of the King employees happened only because the hospital was being closed and its workers reassigned. Criminal background checks on county employees occur only when someone is hired, promoted or transferred.

In Beasley's termination letter, Christopher Arevalo, King's interim chief executive, said Beasley's criminal convictions were "incompatible" with a job that left him alone with patients in "very vulnerable and compromised positions."

Beasley's responsibilities, the letter noted, included interacting with obstetric and mammography patients. His employment, Arevalo said, "may very well potentially expose the county to liability and unnecessary scrutiny . . . and could jeopardize our health facilities' licensing/accreditation."

In an interview last summer, Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke acknowledged that one employee had been convicted of rape, but suggested the case might have been an instance of statutory rape between consenting teenagers.

But Beasley's case -- the only rape conviction identified by The Times -- was far different, according to court records and one of his victims.

The woman, now 46, spoke on the condition that The Times identify her by her nickname Chee Chee. At the time of the 1991 attack, she worked as a prostitute south of downtown Los Angeles.

Just after 6 a.m. one day, Beasley, in uniform, honked at her from his squad car as she walked on South Figueroa Street.

"He yelled, 'Come here, I need to talk to you,' " she said. "He said I had a $200,000 warrant on me, which was a total lie. He said, 'You better give me something to make this go away.' "

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