Ex-nurse accused of sexually abusing, threatening Utah patient released from jail

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12 2013 6:40 p.m. MST

Joshua Platte Shumway makes his initial court appearance Thursday, Dec. 12. 2013, in 8th District Court in Duchesne on three counts of forcible sexual abuse, three counts of witness tampering, and one count each of object rape, forcible sodomy and making threats of violence. Shumway, 26, is accused of sexually abusing a female patient five times in April 2013 while working as a registered nurse at Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt.

Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

DUCHESNE — A former nurse accused of sexually abusing a patient and threatening "to put her in cardiac arrest" was released from jail Thursday after a judge reduced his half-million-dollar bail to $125,000.

Eighth District Judge Clark McClellan lowered Joshua Platte Shumway's bail after determining he was not a flight risk and did not pose a danger to the community.

Despite those findings, McClellan said Shumway — who was fired Tuesday from his job at St. Mark's Hospital after surrendering his nursing license — had to be fitted with a GPS tracking device before being released from jail.

Shumway must also live with family members in either Davis County or Utah County, the judge said, and is barred from returning to the Uintah Basin, except to attend court hearings or meet with his attorney.

Shumway, 26, is charged with object rape and forcible sodomy, first-degree felonies; three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony; three counts of witness tampering, a third-degree felony; and making threats of violence, a class B misdemeanor.

A woman who underwent surgery at Uintah Basin Medical Center in April came forward Dec. 5, telling hospital officials and Roosevelt police that Shumway entered her room five times in one night, according to charging documents. The former patient told investigators Shumway used the automatic morphine pump connected to her IV to drug her during his visits and then sexually abused her in a number of ways.

In addition to the alleged sexual abuse, Shumway is also accused of making verbal and physical threats in an effort to ensure the woman's silence.

"(The woman) stated that the male nurse came in the fourth time stating that it was 15 minutes before 'last rounds' and showed her a needle," the charges state. "The nurse told (her) that he could put her into cardiac arrest with the needle."

At Thursday's bail hearing, defense attorney Greg Lamb told McClellan that police have yet to notify him of any physical evidence or witnesses who might corroborate the woman's claims against Shumway.

"So far, your honor, all I see is an allegation by one person against my client," Lamb said. "All were have right now are allegations."

Lamb cited an absence of any criminal history, the strong support of family and friends, and the fact that Shumway no longer has access to patients as reasons for lowering his client's bail.

"My client has told me that he is willing to abide by any pretrial release conditions," he said.

Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles asked McClellan to leave the $500,000 bail in place, for the sake of the alleged victim. The woman is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been experiencing suicidal thoughts, Charles told the court.

"We are afraid those would be complicated, if he were released," the prosecutor said, adding that Shumway wrote an "apology letter" to the woman following his arrest.

The letter was written during an in-custody police interrogation, according to Lamb. "The case officer actually encouraged my client to write an 'apology letter' and it was given to the investigator in this case," he told McClellan.

The letter was written Tuesday, the same day Shumway surrendered his license following a jailhouse meeting with an investigator from the state Division of Professional Licensing.

As part of the surrender order he signed, Shumway neither admitted nor denied the allegations against him, but he agreed not to dispute the division's findings that he "touched a patient in an inappropriate sexual manner on more than one occasion while working at a Utah hospital" in April 2013.

After court Thursday, Lamb said he intends to review video and audio recordings of the police interviews with his client, as well as the circumstances surrounding Shumway's meeting with the licensing office investigator, to ensure that his rights weren't violated.

"He is very compliant," Lamb said. "He respects authority. He respects his supervisors. He respects law enforcement. He respects his family. So he his wanting to please and help out as best he can.

"He is completely confused by these allegations," Lamb added. "He doesn't understand where they came from, and any 'letter of apology' has to be examined in light of the circumstances in which it was obtained."

Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote would not comment on the letter police apparently asked Shumway to write, saying he wasn't there when it was written. He did, however, defend the speed with which the case moved from the alleged victim's initial report to the filing of charges.

"The investigators in our office were concerned that something might happen to someone else," Foote said. "We wanted to keep the public safe at this point. That was our main priority."

Investigators are continuing to work the case, the prosecutor said. They have not received any new allegations against Shumway from his time at either Uintah Basin Medical Center or St. Mark's, Foote said.

Shumway was released from the Duchesne County Jail just before 5 p.m. Thursday. His next court appearance is set for Feb. 7.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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