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Patient Sues Oregon State Hospital Over Alleged Sexual Abuse 

In its response, the Salem-based facility acknowledged it investigated and substantiated a sexual abuse claim tied to the patient.
Oregon State Hospital in Salem. | JESSICA FLOUM/THE LUND REPORT
June 7, 2021

An Oregon State Hospital patient alleges a mental health therapy technician sexually harassed and abused him for nearly two months, according to an . 

The lawsuit says the technician had phone sex with the patient and sent him pornographic photos and videos that included pictures of her posing nude and shots showing her masturbating.  

Attorneys for Adam Lyon, the patient, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Eugene in November 2020. It names a laundry list of defendants, including Contreras, Oregon State Hospital, the Oregon Health Authority and other administrators, including the authority’s Director Patrick Allen; Kristine Kautz, deputy director of the health authority; Mike Morris, the hospital’s behavioral health director; and hospital superintendent Dolly Matteucci.  

It alleges that a mental health therapy technician, Carmen Contreras, sexually abused and harassed Lyon. The lawsuit says Oregon State Hospital administrators failed to provide adequate supervision, staff training and safeguards to protect him. 

The hospital declined to comment on the suit, but in its , it says it investigated a complaint about the sexual abuse and substantiated the allegations. Yet it says it acted in good faith, calling on the court to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit says Lyon suffers from anxiety, stress, anger, hopelessness and depression because of the alleged abuse.

Yet hospital staff failed to provide counseling for him to help him recover, his lawsuit says. It does not say how long Lyon has been at the Oregon State Hospital or why he was admitted.

Lawsuit Details Inappropriate Contact

The abuse took place from November 2018 to January 2019, when Lyon began to interact with Contreras, the lawsuit says. Contreras started to flirt with Lyon by brushing her hand across his  chest or hand as they passed each other, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit doesn’t disclose the ages of either one or detail what role, if any, Contreras had in Lyon’s treatment and care.

Oregon State Hospital staff cannot have inappropriate physical contact with patients or develop romantic or sexual relationships with them. They also are counseled to maintain professional boundaries and not create the appearance of favoritism or impropriety.

They developed a relationship, the complaint says, alleging they contacted or tried to contact each other more than 85 times using the patient phone on a hospital unit. They included 26 calls longer than one minute, with the longest being an hour and 22 minutes, the lawsuit says.

The two also had sexually explicit conversations using Contreras’ personal cell phone and a prepaid cell phone registered under a fake name, the complaint says.

Separately, Contreras allegedly sent nearly 40 digital photos -- 13 of them with sexual material -- and four pornographic videos to Lyon’s Gmail account of herself masturbating and fondling her breasts, the lawsuit says. In the photographs, Contreras is seen nude, performing sex acts and smoking an apparant marijuana pipe while soaking in a hot tub, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also says Contreras showed Lyon nude photos of herself on her phone.

At one point, Contreras asked him to expose himself to her, the lawsuit says, and he later did. Contreras gave him cards, clothing and food, the suit says.

In one card, the lawsuit says, Contreras talked about herself masturbating while wearing the patient’s sweatshirt and stated: “I want to eat you like a sweet dessert. I want your warmth and sweetness in my mouth.”

The two had in-person conversations, the lawsuit says. In one interaction, Contreras compared her vagina to a rose, the lawsuit says.

A Complaint Is Filed

In late December 2018, Lyon told Contreras he was going to “expose their relationship” to his treatment team, according to the allegations. 

The hospital’s Office of Training, Investigations and Safety received a sexual abuse complaint about Lyon on Dec. 25, 2018, the lawsuit states. It’s unclear from court documents who filed the complaint.

That’s the same day the two last spoke, the lawsuit says. The state hospital acknowledged in its response that investigators substantiated the complaint. 

Oregon State Hospital spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King said the hospital doesn’t comment on ongoing lawsuits, but stressed officials take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously. 

“We immediately send any allegations of sexual misconduct between a staff and patient to the Office of Training, Investigations and Safety for investigation,” Gipson-King said in an email, adding that the hospital shared the outcome of those investigations with human resources. Staff receive annual sexual harassment training and are taught to maintainappropriate boundaries with patients, Gipson-King said.

Contreras is no longer a hospital employee. Her last day was Jan. 10, 2019, Gipson-King said. She did not say why Contreras left.

The lawsuit also draws from employee statements that the hospital’s investigator gathered.

An Employee Warns Contreras

An unnamed employee -- identified as Jane Doe -- allegedly had a conversation on Jan. 6, 2019 with Contreras in which Contreras admitted she was having a romantic relationship with Lyon and that the two called each other and exchanged letters and notes. That person reported the conversation to the hospital’s Office of Training, Investigations and Safety two days later, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that other hospital staff became suspicious of their relationship because they were together so often, including being in a kitchenette alone. At one point, an employee advised Contreras to keep her distance from Lyon  and wear proper work attire instead of a sweatshirt and T-shirt, the lawsuit says. 

The lawsuit alleges that Contreras used her position of power to abuse Lyon and accuses the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the hospital, and hospital officials of failing to protect him from sexual harassment, abuse and intimidation. It says they ignored signs that she was grooming him, failed to act on a ban on intimate contact between patients and staff and failed to complete a timely investigation.

The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, asks for unspecified punitive damages. 

You can reach Ben Botkin at [email protected] or via Twitter @BenBotkin1