Nurses suing King County, Pioneer Human Services just after alleged sexual assaults by purchasers

As a local community health and fitness nurse operating with dangerously mentally ill customers, Cari Dickson experienced a great deal of terrifying encounters even in advance of a single male she was sent to look at on pinned her to the flooring of a small West Seattle apartment and tried using to rape her in February 2021.

Two Seattle law enforcement officers kicked down the doorway, tackled the guy and carried Dickson to safety. Afterward, the officers had been stunned to understand she experienced been sent to the man’s condominium by herself.

“They have been like, ‘Wait, you are a overall health care worker? You ended up despatched right here by yourself? We really do not even go out by yourself. We generally do the job in pairs. This is not Okay,’ ” she claimed throughout a recent interview at her attorneys’ downtown Seattle regulation offices.

1 of the officers advised her, “I’m fairly sure there is a law towards that,” Dickson said.

It turned out the officer was proper.

Lawyers Julie Kays and Cheryl Snow submitted a civil lawsuit in opposition to King County and Pioneer Human Products and services final thirty day period on behalf of Dickson and another nurse who claims she also was sexually assaulted by a shopper when each women were being doing work independently for a person of the county’s Plan for Assertive Group Treatment teams, regarded as PACT Groups.

Though Dickson wanted to be determined in hopes that sharing her story will motivate other gals to appear ahead, her previous co-employee, a psychiatric nurse practitioner now functioning in California, questioned not to be named. The Seattle Occasions does not recognize victims of sexual violence without their categorical consent.

The women’s lawsuit alleges King County and Pioneer Human Services, or PHS, violated the state’s Regulation From Discrimination by repeatedly subjecting female workforce to gender-based mostly discrimination in the office, which include sexual harassment, assaults, sexual assaults, threats and stalking by customers who were hand-picked for the plan from legal and involuntary-motivation dockets in King County Exceptional Courtroom.

Basic safety worries and requests to do the job in pairs ended up brushed off, and the women’s working ailments “were more and more hostile, toxic, risky and risky,” the lawsuit states.

Although the county was informed of each client’s felony heritage and propensity for violence, that information and facts wasn’t shared with PHS PACT Team members, who were being necessary to satisfy customers in their residences and push them to appointments in the employees’ own automobiles, says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which is trying to get an unspecified volume in common and distinctive damages, also claims King County and PHS violated Marty’s Regulation, a 2007 legislation that requires individuals who offer crisis care to dangerously mentally ill offenders perform in pairs. It also bars retaliation from any worker who refuses to go on residence visits on your own.

Marty’s Regulation is named for Marty Smith, a disaster responder for the condition psychological well being method who was killed by a customer during a home take a look at in Poulsbo on Nov. 4, 2005. His killer, Larry Clark, now 49, is serving a 30-12 months prison sentence.

“Because King County and PHS blatantly overlooked this vital protection legislation, it was commonplace for the County and PHS to send out woman PHS PACT Group staff out alone to the residences of dangerously mentally ill clients with no info on the dangers introduced by these offenders,” the lawsuit claims.

PHS, which at the time was one of 4 neighborhood-centered psychological and behavioral wellbeing providers contracted by the county to provide dangerously mentally sick customers, would conclusion up dissolving its PACT Team six months after Dickson was attacked, according to Kays. She has yet to understand why the staff was disbanded and expects that details to arrive to gentle throughout discovery as the lawsuit proceeds to demo.

An lawyer representing Pioneer Human Providers did not return a phone simply call seeking comment about the lawsuit. A spokesperson for King County Government Dow Constantine declined to comment due to the fact the litigation is ongoing.

Nevertheless, solutions to the lawsuit filed in Pierce County Remarkable Court docket display that each King County and Pioneer Human Expert services have denied all allegations of negligence or wrongdoing. Each also have asserted a quantity of affirmative defenses, including that 3rd parties — PACT clients — had been at fault for any alleged damages endured by the two nurses.

Holding an employer liable for perform dedicated from an worker by a nonemployee was with no precedent until finally Sheila LaRose, a previous King County community defender, sued King County in 2015 after she was stalked by a previous customer she had represented in a felony stalking situation. Her case was bolstered when the condition Court of Appeals adopted the federal conventional that an employer may well be held liable for the harassment of an staff by a nonemployee and reversed two dismissals.

A Pierce County jury in October awarded LaRose $7 million in damages, but King County has appealed.

In its response to the nurses’ lawsuit, King County has adopted a very similar argument as in the LaRose circumstance, declaring that the women’s damages were being caused “by the intentional acts of persons … performing outside the scope of any command by defendant or in excess of whom defendant experienced no regulate, and defendant is, thus, not liable for those intentional functions.”

“Shaky and scared”

In 2007, Washington state adopted the Assertive Neighborhood Remedy model, which was produced in Wisconsin in the early 1970s, as an outpatient company program to assistance people today with significant psychological health and fitness conditions transfer out of long-expression condition hospitals into local community options.

Funded by Medicaid and the point out, the Washington Condition Well being Treatment Authority designates the quantity of PACT Teams operating in every county.

Behavioral health and fitness suppliers are contracted by counties to give PACT providers to consumers, and PHS became an unbiased contractor in 2017, in accordance to King County’s response to the nurses’ lawsuit.

The psychiatric nurse practitioner who questioned not to be determined joined the Pioneer Human Expert services PACT Team in 2018 and Dickson joined in 2019. Their perform jobs incorporated delivering antipsychotic medications to clients.

In the 1st fifty percent of 2019, the psychiatric nurse practitioner went to Bruksos House, a housing challenge run by PHS on Capitol Hill where a variety of PACT purchasers dwell.

The customer she was despatched to see experienced not regularly been having his antipsychotic prescription drugs. When she arrived, she stepped into his space to explain his remedies and, at his ask for, set his supplements in her hand.

The guy grabbed her wrist, licked the tablets off her hand, threw her on the mattress, got on top rated of her and groped her, she stated. She fought him off and ran out the door.

“Afterward, I was sensation truly shocked and terrified and shaky and worried,” explained the nurse, who is now 42.

She didn’t report the attempted rape to police but explained to her supervisor what had occurred.

“He stated to me, ‘I’m not your therapist.’ And that was variety of the conclude of it,” she recalled in a cellular phone job interview.

Without the need of her supervisor’s information, she and a different PACT Team member went to the man’s Department of Corrections neighborhood corrections officer and uncovered that the male who attacked her “did in actuality have a pretty considerable violent background, including a heritage of tried sexual assaults on other women of all ages that experienced in no way been unveiled to us.”

Following leaving Seattle in June 2019, she went on to do the job for equivalent Assertive Group Procedure teams in Colorado and California, wherever she claimed workers routinely go in pairs to see clientele with violent histories. But her working experience in Seattle was traumatizing and has led her to feel unsafe at periods, even when accompanied on property visits by one more mental wellness experienced.

“It’s broken me and it is destroyed my operate and still left me in a position the place I’m much more susceptible to just becoming scared in some cases, even when I really don’t need to have to be,” she said.

By yourself, attacked

Dickson, 38, grew up in Montana and started her nursing job in Seattle in 2004, offering close-of-lifestyle care to children who had experienced traumatic brain injuries. She spent three several years in Ethiopia, performing at an orphanage for little ones who had missing their moms and dads to HIV/AIDS. On her return to Seattle, she ongoing performing in pediatrics.

Then, a handful of several years ago, Dickson recognized the explosion in the city’s homeless population and determined to make a change.

“My coronary heart would just go out to the people today I saw on the streets so I quit my position,” she stated.

She was employed by a temp agency and landed a three-thirty day period contract offering prescription drugs to Pioneer Human Companies PACT consumers in advance of accepting a whole-time work on the PACT Crew in June 2019.

Dickson was assigned to perform downtown and in Pioneer Square, in which shoppers struggling from intense psychological disease and psychosis necessary the most intensive amount of care.

“I would go oftentimes to homeless encampments and shelters and also transitional housing models,” Dickson stated. “Another undertaking I was genuinely good at was drawing blood. … I’ve drawn blood in alleyways and camps and it was a ton. I was usually on the go.”

Just one time, Dickson was despatched to the Morrison Resort to attract a client’s blood and immediately after he refused to accompany her to the foyer, she reluctantly went into his room. She had just inserted the needle into his arm when he acquired about her and claimed, “Do you like violence?”

On Feb. 19, 2021, Dickson frequented a lot more than a dozen customers and was wrapping up her working day when her crew chief requested her to test on a man who wasn’t on Dickson’s standard caseload. He appeared to be in crisis and Dickson was geographically closest to his condominium.

She stopped by a friend’s home to use the bathroom and pointed out to her good friend that she did not have a excellent feeling about the visit, which was nearby.

Dickson satisfied Marcus Francis exterior his condominium building and suggested they get coffee at a close by Starbucks. He explained to her he wanted to seize his cell phone to start with, and she adopted him inside of the creating. Dickson stood outside the house the doorway, but when Francis’ roommate went to go away, she experienced to step into the apartment to let him pass — and Francis jumped up from wherever he was sitting down on the mattress and applied his physique to block the door.

“At that place, I do not keep in mind what happens — it occurred so rapid. The next factor I bear in mind is I’m on the floor, pinned. He’s on top of me … and he is suffocating me, he has his hand more than my mouth and nose and he’s pressing genuinely tough. And he claims, ‘Who sent you to kill me?’ ” Dickson mentioned.

As the attack went on, Dickson fought him as he struggled to pull down her leggings. She was able to arrive at her telephone and style garbled text messages with one hand, inquiring her mate to connect with 911.

Dickson stated she remembers hearing sirens and the seems of Seattle police officers forcing their way into Francis’ creating.

“OK, this is my possibility, I’m heading to battle as challenging as I can and scream as loud as I can,” Dickson reported she remembers contemplating. “And so I did and so they have been in a position to hear me and they banged on the doorway. They kicked it in and tackled him off of me and then a policeman picked me up and I however experienced my cellular phone in my hand.”

Francis, 34, was charged with tried next-degree rape but has not been located skilled to stand demo, court docket data display.

His protection attorney declined to comment about his situation.

Dickson endured intensive bruising, muscle tissues strains, a torn tendon in one shoulder and other injuries. She is also contending with article-traumatic pressure disorder and has not worked because the attack.

“I’m genuinely jumpy and I have nightmares and wake up screaming,” Dickson reported. “I have two therapists and I’m doing all the ideal items, but it is this sort of a weird spot for me to be in because I’ve normally found myself as a nurse and cherished staying a nurse and now … I just cannot even visualize myself doing the job as a nurse yet again.”