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Nearly 100 women fear they were raped by nurse

She might have been a cheerleader or maybe a high school debutante, but this day the blonde teenager clutched her purse with both hands as she sat in the lobby of the Inverness Police Department.

Outside, a middle-aged woman in executive clothes stepped out of a Lincoln Continental. She went into the lobby and sat next to a thin, graying woman who's probably a grandmother.

Soon an investigator emerged from his office, escorting a woman and her two children. The children held teddy bears that police had given them.

For nearly three weeks, it has been this way every day at the Inverness Police Department.

Women of all shapes and sizes from every walk of life have paraded in and out of the police department, seeking relief from the same concern _ a fear that they were raped by male nurse Bruce Alan Young while they were under anesthesia at Citrus Memorial Hospital.

Police say almost 100 women have passed through these doors.

Young has been charged with raping five women. Although he is behind bars, many of the women coming to the police department say they feel as if they are emotional prisoners, nervously waiting for Young to be tested for the virus that causes AIDS.

"I'm sick to my stomach all the time," says a 38-year-old woman, who was cared for by Young on Aug. 2. "I've spent a lot of time and money having myself checked for every type of disease. Now all I can do is wait."

Young's job at the hospital was to help patients recovering after surgery. But prosecutors allege he often would pump morphine and Demerol into their system so that they would remain unconscious as he raped them.

"I try not to think about it. That's how I get through my days. Only he knows what he actually did to everybody he did this to," said the 23-year-old woman Young is accused of sexually assaulting Aug. 19.

Police say Young gave them a statement admitting he assaulted her shortly after she had abdominal surgery. Young, a 45-year-old registered nurse gave the statement Oct. 3 after another nurse caught him lying on a gurney having sex with an unconscious 15-year-old girl in the hospital's recovery room.

He told police he raped her because she was pretty, and she was powerless.

"This is something that has not only shocked Inverness, this kind of story is one that should shock everyone in America," said Inverness police Chief Bill Vitt.

The story has drawn attention from around the country. Producers from Geraldo and Dateline have contacted Vitt. Writers from Redbook and numerous newspapers and magazines have traveled to this area, all wanting mainly to interview the women.

Vitt has been approached by several Tampa Bay area television stations asking his help in interviewing victims with the promise that their faces will not be shown. Those requests have been denied.

The women are pursued by lawyers, some of whom have gone so far as to place ads in a local newspaper offering free consultation to women who think they might have been raped at Citrus Memorial Hospital.

Three lawsuits have been filed so far, and several lawyers in the area have said they are representing women who plan to file suits in the future.

"This has affected an unbelievable amount of people," said Detective Jack Armstrong, chief investigator. "Daughters are worried about mothers, husbands about wives, brothers about sisters. It's changed their lives forever, and these people did nothing wrong.

"We've lost that innocent small town atmosphere and small town sense of security. This was an unusually quiet place before all this happened."

Judy McBride of the State Attorney's Office Victim's Assistance Program has counseled many of the women who fear they were raped. She said counseling these women has been an extraordinary experience.

"Everyone I've talked to has cried," McBride said. "For some there has been a sense of relief in knowing what happened. Now they have a possible explanation to explain the discomfort they felt after leaving the hospital.

"I think the crying brought on by the intensity and many emotional feelings combined. They have anger, sadness, confusion and the feeling of vulnerability. The whole situation is sad."

According to VaCelia Koumendoulos, who operates the Rape Crisis Program of Family Services in Clearwater, many of these victims, even though they were not fully conscious when the rape occurred, may never feel at ease in a medical environment again.

"They're likely to be angry at being violated by someone in a position of trust," she said. "They might have precautions about going to the doctor again. They could have a distrust for the whole medical profession and apprehensions about anesthesia.

"Even though they were not awake while they were being attacked, they could be going through emotional numbness. They don't know how to feel, but they know something happened."

The 23-year-old woman Young is accused of assaulting said she is glad he is in jail.

"Now, he will have time to ask himself if it was worth it to touch and feel on the women when he could have gone home to his wife."

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