Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Case against man accused of groping patients moves forward

Robert Lastinger. Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Robert Lastinger. Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

The case against a male former Stanford Hospital worker who’s facing charges that he groped four male patients is moving ahead.

Robert Lastinger, 56, of Fremont, has been charged with four felony counts of sexual battery. The date for a preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence for a trial, was expected to be set today (Thursday, July 23).

From March 20 through April 1, several nurses allegedly saw Lastinger, an anesthesia technician and orderly, “touching the genital area” of the patients, “who were post-surgery and still unconscious from the anesthesia during surgery,” according to a summary from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office. The patients were 16, 22, 25, and 52.

The nurses reported the alleged actions to supervisors and Lastinger, who’d worked at the Redwood City hospital since 2009, was “immediately terminated,” prosecutors said.

Hospital staff called Redwood City police, who interviewed Lastinger. He “admitted the crimes,” according to the DA’s office.

Lastinger, who’s pleaded not guilty to all charges, is out of custody on $100,000 bail bond. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

In an interview in May, Lastinger’s attorney, Dennis Lempert, said his clients actions “were consistent with his responsibilities in treating post-operative patients, and there was no improper touching.”

Lastinger is “terribly upset that these allegations arose,” Lempert said. “He has not done anything wrong.” Lempert said he didn’t have “the foggiest notion” whether Lastinger is gay.

Lastinger hasn’t faced complaints in the past, he said.

“My understanding is he’s been doing this for about 35 years and has never had an allegation made against him of any improper touching of a patient,” Lempert said.

He couldn’t provide many details on how the charges came about.

“I have yet to see a police report,” Lempert said. “I don’t know how many witnesses, if any, there are to the actual alleged improper touching, but my understanding and my experience as having been a person who has been treated at outpatient surgical facilities is that the recovery area is generally wide open, with many people there. Any type of improper touching would be readily observed by many of the staff.”

Contrary to prosecutors’ account, Lempert said, “None of the staff have reported any such improper touching, and in fact numerous nurses and fellow workers of Mr. Lastinger have contacted him to testify on his behalf.”

The Bay Area Reporter requested Lempert have Lastinger’s supporters contact the paper, but no one has done so.

Lempert said touching people was part of Lastinger’s job, and during the course of his work, “he touches patients. That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to care for post-operative patients to make sure they’re comfortable and to make sure that they are well, and touching patients is what caregivers do.”

Asked about the possibility of someone targeting his client with false accusations, Lempert said, “I think that if there was anyone who made an observation of what they thought to be misconduct,” it had to have been “an erroneous observation and a misimpression.”

Deputy District Attorney Sean P. Dabel is prosecuting the case.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 23, 2015 @ 2:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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