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Patient of nurse accused of sexual assault sues Providence Mission Hospital

A patient of a Providence Mission Hospital nurse accused of sexually assaulting her and two others filed a lawsuit Thursday, July 8 alleging that negligence on behalf of the medical facility gave the defendant the opportunity to violate her.

The woman who came forward, 22-year-old Zoe Leigh Cooksey, was the first of three women who reported being assaulted by Paul Alden Miller, 56, of San Clemente.

The Register does not typically publish the names of victims or alleged victims of sexual assaults. However, Cooksey publicly identified herself to reporters in the hopes of encouraging victims to speak out.

“This has been one of the worst experiences of my life, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be the same again,”  Cooksey said, her voice trembling and her hands shaking as she held a written statement. “But I am coming forward today to give a voice to the victims of sexual assault.”

Miller faces three felony counts of sexual battery, as well as misdemeanor charges of inflicting injury on an elder adult and touching an intimate part of another person’s body filed on June 29. All charges were related to his role at the hospital.

Cooksey said she came to Providence Mission Hospital on March 31 with injuries from a car accident. She alleges in her suit that Miller took her to a secluded room at the hospital and told her he would need to use a catheter on her.

She questioned the necessity of doing so, but submitted to him because of Miller’s position of authority as a health professional, she said. During the procedure, the nurse rubbed her in a sexual manner and asked if it felt good, the suit states. Cooksey repeatedly told Miller to stop.

Shortly after the catheter was removed, Cooksey called her mother to tell her she believed something wrong had happened and asked for a ride home, according to the victim’s attorney, Shawn Steel. Just as her mother arrived, Miller returned to the patient’s room and pumped two syringes of Morphine, a powerful opiate that she had never taken before, into her IV line, the suit states.

With the drug in her system, Cooksey became unable to tell her mother what had just happened, according to the suit. But once it wore off she was able to notify her family, as well as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Zoe Cooksey, left, her mother, Amber Leigh, center, and grandmother, Annette Oltmans leave a press conference outside Providence Mission Hospital on Thursday, July 8, 2021, in Mission Viejo, CA. Cooksey was at the hospital because of injuries from an auto accident and said, “I was sexually assaulted by a nurse, Paul Miller.”(Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Hospital records obtained by Cooksey’s attorney show Miller signed for three syringes of morphine at the time he was treating her, Steel said Thursday. The lawsuit accuses Mission Hospital of failing to adequately supervise the nurse as he administered drugs and conducted sensitive procedures for no apparent medical purpose. It also alleges that officials failed to properly screen Miller and were negligent in hiring him.

Administrators at Providence Mission Hospital are cooperating with investigators looking into the alleged sexual assault, Orange County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

“The caregiver has not worked at Providence Mission since the hospital learned of the first incident,”  the facility said in a statement Thursday. “Providence Mission Hospital strictly adhered to its policies and protocols as soon as we received this complaint.”

In April, a 68-year-old woman submitted a second report, also accusing Miller of sexually assaulting her at Providence Mission Hospital. She was followed by a 56-year-old woman who came to authorities in June.

Miller is scheduled for arraignment in the criminal case on September 28. It was unclear Thursday if an attorney had been assigned to defend him. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Orange County Register

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