Medical caregiver charged with sexually abusing patient

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus police said a woman with severe disabilities was allegedly raped by her caregiver at the Heinzerling Developmental Center in southwest Columbus.

Thursday afternoon, investigators said a coworker walked into the patient’s room and found 25-year-old Harry E. Yruegas naked in bed and allegedly sexually assaulting the 47-year-old developmentally disabled victim. He told investigators this was not the first time.

As alarming as the details are in this case advocates for people with disabilities said too many cases not only go unreported in Ohio, but victim’s stories are not always heard or believed.

“She is unable to care for herself, she is unable to speak, she was totally helpless, she was totally unable to defend herself from these assaults,” said Sgt.David Pelphrey, with Columbus’ Sexual Abuse Unit.

Police Investigators, the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Ohio’s Department of Developmental Disabilities are all examining evidence gathered from the Heinzerling Developmental Center and hospital.

Yruegas has been charged with raping and sexual battery of a patient under his care.

“The suspect provided them with information that leads them to believe this was not the first incident where he had sexually assaulted this patient,” said Sgt. Pelphrey.

The state DODD licenses facilities like the Heinzerling Center and a spokesperson said the facility followed the law reporting the alleged sexual abuse with 24 hours and immediately provided care for the victim.

The Heinzerling Center administrator a letter to staff and patient’s families saying the victim received immediate care, the suspect has been fired and they do not believe other patients have been assaulted.

Yruegas is locked up in the Franklin CountyJail and should appear in court in the next few days.

PDF: Disability Rights of Ohio report on sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities

PDF: Letter to faculty and family members at Heinzerling Developmental Center

RELATED STORY: Bond set for caregiver accused of sexually assaulting disabled woman provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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