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Utah Attorney General grants forgiveness after ‘Rape Hospital’ investigation

Posted at 9:51 PM, Sep 08, 2023

This story is part two of a three-part series, FOX 13 Investigates: “The Rape Hospital."

To watch the first installment, click HERE; for the third, click HERE.

MIDVALE, Utah — Just one employee faced a criminal charge, and eventually forgiveness, after an “aggressive” investigation into Highland Ridge Hospital in Midvale.

Officers with the Unified Police Department spent years identifying cases of adults and children being sexually assaulted at the facility. Investigators say the hospital did not follow the law in reporting those cases to the proper authorities.

Some investigators and employees refer to Highland Ridge Hospital as “The Rape Hospital” because of how frequently patients are assaulted and how infrequently the staff report those cases to police.
UPD officers have responded to more than 100 cases at Highland Ridge Hospital since 2019.

More than half of those cases are from someone reported to be physically or sexually violent.

  • 17 documented reports of sexual assault  
  • 31 documented reports of assault 

In many of those cases, victims or their families called 911 — not hospital staff.
It’s impossible to know how many cases went unreported.

“I’m hoping by the end of this month they’re going to be closing their doors,” a UPD sergeant said on Feb. 1, 2022.

Despite wishful thinking from police, the hospital remains open and able to take patients.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office took over UPD’s case, also investigating Highland Ridge Hospital for Medicaid fraud.
Prosecutors chose not to file fraud charges, but documents from that case show investigators felt the facility’s failure to report assault was “habitual” and that “only assaults involving patients with funding issues were being reported.”

The report also states the Utah AG's Office interviewed Highland Ridge Hospital CEO Jim Hess.

“He said he doesn’t have enough staff to keep everybody safe,” an investigator wrote.

Despite multiple unreported assaults and sexual assaults, just one misdemeanor charge was filed against a man named Jeremy Plumb for “FAILURE TO REPORT ABUSE OR NEGLECT.”

Plumb was the director of risk management at Highland Ridge Hospital.

“If you have a loved one that is requiring care in a facility like this... do your research to ensure that the care that is being provided is appropriate for your loved one,” said Richard Piatt, a spokesperson for the Utah AG’s Office. “The case that sparked the charge was not an outlier.”

“So then why only the one charge?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

Piatt said he could not answer that question.

Plumb’s case never went to trial. He initially pleaded guilty, but the charge was removed from his record after he paid a $690 fine as part of a plea in abeyance.

The Utah AG’s Office described the plea deal as an “opportunity to have a little forgiveness happen, for the charge to go away.”

Highland Ridge Hospital declined to comment.

Plumb does not work at the facility anymore. The Utah AG’s Office believes he moved to California.

“I presume that there’s a follow-up in California to ensure that he doesn’t have a similar job and that he is complying, but it sounds like he’s moved on,” Piatt said. “Our Medicaid Fraud Unit is not afraid to go after people, but we have to deal with the evidence that’s in front of us.”

“Were there evidentiary issues on this case?” Herbets asked.

“Eh, I can’t really answer that,” Piatt said.

“Is it appropriate to offer a plea in abeyance when there’s this many cases?” Herbets asked.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Piatt said. “That’s something our investigators were looking into.”

“There’s patients getting raped at this facility, and one employee gets charged with one count and has to pay a fine,” Herbets said. “That seems pretty lenient. Do you agree with that?”

“I don’t know,” Piatt said. “I don’t have the information to answer that question about whether it’s lenient.”

When asked whether the Utah AG’s Office was happy with the outcome of the case, Piatt gave the same answer.

“I don’t know.”

________

The Utah AG’s Office says Highland Ridge Hospital took the case as a “learning opportunity.”

It’s the same answer the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been getting from Highland Ridge Hospital for years.

DHHS has the authority to shut down the facility but so far has chosen not to.

Complaints

DHHS is encouraging anyone with a complaint about Highland Ridge Hospital to contact them by filling out this form.

Complainants have the option to remain anonymous.

Individuals may also file a criminal complaint by calling the Unified Police Department at (801) 840 4000 and/ or the Utah Attorney General’s Office at (801) 366 0260 or via this form.

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