Judge awards $255,000 to woman groped by male nurse while in BR hospital

A state judge awarded $255,000 to a woman who testified Thursday she no longer trusts anyone after a male nurse fondled her in the intensive care unit at Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge in 2009.

Sharon Hewitt, formerly of Baton Rouge, was a patient at the hospital when Bruce Raymond Greene, who no longer has a nursing license, also performed inappropriate sexual acts in her presence.

“Horrified. Violated. There was even embarrassment. Shame,” said Hewitt, 50, who lives in Wisconsin, in describing in court how Greene’s actions made her feel.

“My life was in this man’s hands. I went from fighting for my life to fearing for my life,” she added.

Greene, 42, who was living in Mandeville in 2010 when Hewitt sued him and Ochsner, also testified Thursday and acknowledged he did not tell Ochsner he once worked at a Mandeville hospital but was fired for inappropriate contact with a patient.

Ochsner suspended Greene on April 10, 2009 — the same day Hewitt complained to the hospital about him — and fired him three days later.

Ochsner immediately reported Greene to the police.

Greene was booked on charges of sexual battery of the infirm and later pleaded guilty to two felony counts of cruelty to the infirm.

He remains on court-ordered probation and agreed as part of his guilty plea to never seek to return to nursing.

District Judge Tim Kelley listened to several hours of testimony Thursday before finding Greene 100 percent liable for the damages caused by his actions.

The judge rejected Greene’s contention that Hewitt consented to some of his actions.

Kelley also found Ochsner vicariously liable for the damages he awarded to her.

“We can collect it (the $255,000) 100 percent from either one,” Hewitt’s attorney, Kris Perret, said in reference to Ochsner and Greene.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Hewitt said. “I thought it (the judge’s ruling) was very fair.”

Kelley found that Ochsner was negligent not only in failing to provide a safe environment for Hewitt but also in its hiring of Greene in 2008.

Ochsner attorney Sherman Boughton Jr. declined comment outside Kelley’s courtroom.

Hewitt, who said a serious car accident had sent her to Ochsner with abdominal and facial injuries, testified she has struggled mightily to move forward but is trying to establish “a new normal.”

“I’ve been doing the best I can,” she said. “I’m very scared to venture out anywhere. I don’t trust anyone.”