Nurses accused of sex act on job while caring for patient ordered to stand trial

SAN DIEGO - Two male nurses accused of engaging in a sex act with each other while caring for a 99-year-old stroke victim were ordered Friday to stand trial on felony charges.

Russel Torralba and Alfredo V. Ruiz showed "a complete disregard" for the role of nurses in society, Judge Lorna Alksne said.

Both men had their licenses suspended.

Following a 5 1/2-day preliminary hearing, she ordered the defendants to proceed to trial on one count of inflicting mental suffering on an elder, plus elder abuse charges. Ruiz also faces two elder abuse counts and Torralba an additional five, based on allegations of providing inadequate care for six other residents at two board-and-care facilities in Mira Mesa in 2010.

Surveillance video footage showed Torralba fondling Ruiz on multiple occasions in 2011 in the victim's room, according to Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood.

Their lawyers argued that while the behavior was "inappropriate," there was no evidence that the woman was neglected, suffered injuries or that she was aware of what was taking place next to her.

"It's really shocking to the court that the conduct took place before an elderly member of our community," the judge said.

Alksne, however, dismissed one count of lewd and lascivious behavior against the nurses.

She ordered the defendants, who are free on bond, to return to court on Aug. 21 to get a trial date.

Greenwood said the defendants face up to six years in prison if convicted.

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