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A job for a grand jury

As allegations of multiple sexual battery by a male nurse continue to emerge, there is growing public concern about how Citrus Memorial Hospital personnel reacted to the crisis. Because of the Inverness hospital's reluctance to offer information that might lessen those worries, the responsibility for answering the troubling questions falls to Brad King, the state attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit.

King should enlist the aid of a grand jury, which already is scheduled to convene Nov. 1 to probe a Dunnellon murder, to investigate the hospital's role in the case of Bruce Alan Young, the nurse charged with sexually molesting at least five sedated patients in his care.

Because of its sweeping empowerment, a grand jury could provide facts about the shocking case and interpret those findings by issuing a presentment. That analysis could serve as a guide for other health-care institutions or agencies to use to prevent a similar scandal.

Such a broad-based examination of the case would allow the public to forge an informed opinion of whether or not the hospital hierarchy was negligent, or merely exhibited bad judgment, by not reporting previous allegations of sexual assault to police. It also might explain why the hospital waited three hours to report an eyewitness' accusation that Young raped a 15-year-old, unconscious girl.

Because of the widespread public interest, complexity and enormity of the case, a grand jury is best equipped to go past the actual criminal charges against Young and concentrate on the circumstances that may have contributed to this outrage.

State Attorney King should not delay in seizing the opportunity to bring the Young case to the grand jury. Not only would the grand jury's findings be used to ease the public's doubts, the presentment could provide invaluable insight that might be used to protect other helpless patients from becoming victims.