Former nurse accused of sexually abusing patient ordered to stand trial
Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
DUCHESNE — A former nurse accused of sexually abusing a patient and then threatening to put her into cardiac arrest has been ordered to stand trial.
Judge Samuel Chiara acknowledged that the evidence presented during Joshua Platte Shumway's preliminary hearing Friday was "very close to not meeting the standard" required to bind Platte over for trial.
"But I think taken in the light most favorable to the state, I do have an eyewitness who has multiple times identified you as the perpetrator," Chiara told Shumway.
That eyewitness was hospitalized at Uintah Basin Medical Center in April after undergoing a surgical procedure that required an overnight stay.
On the witness stand Friday, the 37-year-old woman testified that Shumway entered her room five times during the night, even though he was not assigned to be her nurse.
In previous statements to Roosevelt police, the woman said Shumway lifted up her hospital gown and fondled her more than once. The woman said Shumway also forced her to touch him inappropriately and made her engage in sex acts.
The woman testified Friday that Shumway raped her during one of the visits, something that wasn't disclosed during her first interview with police when she came forward in December.
In addition to the repeated sexual assaults, the woman testified that Shumway threatened her verbally and physically. During one visit to her room near the end of the night, she said Shumway showed her a syringe.
"He told me, 'You see this little needle? I can kill you with this little needle,'" the woman testified, adding later that Shumway asked her if she wanted her nurse to find her in cardiac arrest.
The woman told the court that Shumway claimed to have access to her hospital records and said he could find her if she told anyone about the alleged abuse. He also put his hands on her throat during his final visit and began to squeeze, she testified.
"I thought to myself, 'Go ahead and just kill me,'" the woman said. "I whimpered some more and he squeezed tighter."
Defense attorney Greg Lamb, however, challenged the woman's memory of the alleged abuse. He pointed out that she had contacted police more than once after her initial disclosure in December to provide additional details gleaned from what she called "flashbacks."
"Didn't you describe these flashbacks as something that was a flashback, you're not sure if it was real, but it felt like it was real?" Lamb asked. "Would that sound like your description to (the investigating officer)?"
"Yes," the woman replied.
After nearly five hours of testimony, Chiara ordered Shumway to stand trial on one count of object rape, a first-degree felony, two counts of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony, and two counts of witness tampering, a third-degree felony.
"There are things that may have been said today that may raise some concerns with (the alleged victim's) credibility. I'm taking her statements in a light most favorable to the state when I do this," Chiara said as he handed down his order.
State law and legal precedent require Utah judges to weigh evidence presented at a preliminary hearing in the light most favorable to the prosecution.
Based on the testimony presented Friday, Duchesne County prosecutor Grant Charles received permission from the judge to amend one of the original charges filed against Shumway, dismiss another and to file two new charges.
Chiara set a separate preliminary hearing for March 14 to determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to bind Shumway over for trial on one count of rape, a first-degree felony; one count of object rape, a first-degree felony; one count of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony; one count of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony; and two counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony.
After the Friday's hearing, Lamb said prosecutors presented a "dearth of evidence" against his client.
"There was nothing new presented," he said. "In fact, all that was presented was contradictory evidence from the alleged victim and from the state's lead officer in the case."
Shumway, who was working at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City at the time of his arrest, remains free on bail. He has surrendered his license to work as a registered nurse in Utah.
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