See the update on Page 2 about the jury finding the defendant not guilty after hearing the rape accusation was planned as part of a suit against the Santa Ana Police Department.
ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 18, 8:33 A.M.: A 30-year-old former St. Joseph Hospital emergency room worker was acquitted Monday of sexually assaulting a patient.
Francisco Ayala Jr. of Anaheim had claimed he engaged in a consensual sexual act with the woman, who was 33 when it was alleged the incident happened in March 2011.
Ayala was facing 24 years in state prison if he'd been convicted of the charges against him, which included felony rape by use of drugs, rape of a person unable to resist due to unconsciousness of the act, sodomy by anesthesia or controlled substance, and oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance.
The woman had reported she'd been raped to the hospital, which contacted the Orange Police Department, which conducted the investigation and made the arrest.
UPDATE, MARCH 18, 11:16 A.M.: It was not the prosecution showing the alleged rape victim was mentally unstable, legally drunk and on pot that undid their case against former St. Joseph's emergency room technician Francisco Ayala Jr.
It was the defense claiming the accuser used the rape allegation to sue the Santa Ana Police Department, which she believed had unjustly taken her children away from her.
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The responding cop being caught in a lie on the stand did not help either.
City News Service has the full story on the next page ...
By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service
SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 30-year-old former St. Joseph Hospital emergency room worker was acquitted [Monday] of sexually assaulting a patient.
The attorney for Francisco Ayala Jr. of Anaheim argued his client engaged in oral sex with the woman, but that it was consensual. Ayala could have faced up to 24 years in prison if convicted.
Ayala broke down and cried when the verdict was announced, attorney John Mardoyan said.
"He shed some tears in court," Mardoyan said. "His dad was crying, he was crying, and one of the jurors said she was going to cry when she saw him crying."
Mardoyan said he took on the case for a modest amount of money because, "I was so sure he was innocent and I wanted to help him."
Deputy District Attorney Jana Hoffmann said, "I respect the jury's decision" and declined further comment.
Ayala was a "patient care technician" at the hospital when his accuser was brought in by police under the state's "5150 code," which allows someone to be held for up to 72 hours if they are judged to be a danger to themselves or others, Hoffmann said.
Santa Ana police were called about 1 a.m. March 8, 2011, to the woman's apartment, where they found broken glass and the residence in "shambles," Hoffmann said. The woman was "distraught and depressed over the death of a friend and the suicide of her father," the prosecutor said.
Authorities also took custody of her three children, which exacerbated her depression, Hoffmann said.
After she got to the hospital, her blood-alcohol level was measured at .24--three times the legal limit for driving -- and she also had marijuana in her system, the prosecutor said.
The woman was placed on "suicide watch," with Ayala assigned to guard her, Hoffmann said.
"He saw how upset she was," Hoffmann said, adding the woman told Ayala she had been drinking.
Ayala hugged the patient, which was against policy, then "betrayed his position of trust and authority over her," Hoffmann alleged in her opening statement of the trial.
The woman told investigators she waited about a day to file a report because she feared Ayala knew where she lived and that authorities would think she was "crazy" and keep her locked up longer, "affecting her ability to get her children back," Hoffmann said.
Ayala's attorney said the woman's ex-husband gained custody of two of her children and an ex-boyfriend was granted custody of the third.
When told she lost custody of the children, "she was pissed. She blamed Santa Ana police for losing her kids," Mardoyan said.
The accuser was drunk and had marijuana in her system, but because she's alcoholic she has a higher level of tolerance, according to Mardoyan, who said she "was alert, aware and cohesive" when she arrived at the hospital.
After reporting to the hospital that she had been sexually assaulted, the woman told Orange police officers 16 times that she did not want to press charges before she relented, Mardoyan said.
Near the end of her interview with police, she said, "Oh, by the way, I've already hired an attorney to sue Santa Ana because without them I wouldn't have gotten raped," Mardoyan alleged.
The woman testified that she sued the hospital and settled out of court for $275,000, Mardoyan said.
When Ayala had the patient write down her personal information at the hospital, the woman wrote, "I can't wait to finish," according to Mardoyan, who said those words indicated she wanted to complete the sex acts that were being interrupted by a nurse.
"No question what he did deserved to get him fired," Mardoyan said. "But it was not (rape)."
Mardoyan said he felt a turning point in the trial was when the arresting officer testified he never saw the woman before he took her into custody. But the woman testified that she had seen the officer multiple times before and even ran into him out in public on occasion, Mardoyan said.