DENVER (AP) – A woman who went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain on Christmas Eve 2013 remembered feeling “out of it” after getting a dose of morphine. But as she came to, she realized her hospital gown was open and a male nurse was touching and kissing her.
The woman said she lay still, seemingly frozen. She says when she was discharged, her nurse, Thomas Mark Moore, told her “I’ll find you, Sweetie.”READ MORE: Littleton Officer In Serious Condition After Being Shot, Search Ongoing For Suspect
She told nobody, even when Moore sent her a Facebook friend request days later. A year and half after her discharge from Poudre Valley Hospital, she reported Moore to police in Fort Collins, an hour north of Denver.
That report in August set off an investigation that turned up eight other women who alleged that Moore, 43, had fondled, groped or kissed them at hospitals in Colorado and Nebraska over a two-year period, according to court documents.
Moore’s case highlights how easy it can be for nurses who are fired or forced out of their jobs over alleged misconduct to find work elsewhere, in part because some states – Colorado is among a handful – don’t require hospitals to report nursing law violations to regulators. Colorado’s nursing board also doesn’t have the power to conduct criminal background checks for license applicants.
The hospitals apparently knew about some alleged misconduct by Moore. He was terminated from three hospitals before he was arrested and a Nebraska hospital reported an unspecified incident involving him in 2013 that never led to charges. But without any prosecution pending, it doesn’t seem that they shared the information with other facilities.
He also held nursing licenses in Alaska and Wyoming.
Lawyers representing Moore, who is due back in court Monday on some of the allegations, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Telephone numbers for his home and for possible relatives have been disconnected, and he did not respond to a letter sent to him in jail. The Associated Press generally does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse.
Brie Akins, executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said sex offenders often go undetected because most victims don’t go to authorities because they don’t want to be subjected to scrutiny and they may blame themselves for what happened.
“There is still a lot of shame around that,” she said.
In Moore’s case, Akins said, some of the women also may have wondered whether they would be believed since they were under the influence of painkillers.
But even when the patients risked speaking out and authorities were notified, nothing happened.
Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska – a city of 15,000 in the state’s panhandle – reported an unspecified complaint involving Moore and a female patient to police in June 2013. No charges were filed at the time, but it’s not clear why. Moore is now charged with abusing three women at the hospital in 2014 and 2015.
In August 2014, a woman told police that Moore had tried to grope her breasts a few months before at the Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center in Greeley, an agricultural and college town about 35 miles from Fort Collins. She wanted to warn authorities but didn’t want to press charges.
However, after Moore was arrested in the Fort Collins case in December, Greeley Detective Dave Arpin contacted her again. Since other women had stepped forward, she decided to pursue charges too.
In Colorado, complaints to the nursing board are confidential and officials say they can’t even confirm whether a complaint exists. Any disciplinary actions taken as a result of a complaint, however, are made public.
Citing those regulations, a spokeswoman for the Division of Regulatory Agencies, Rebecca Laurie, refused to say how many complaints were filed against Moore while he worked in Colorado.
After police began investigating the 2013 case in Fort Collins, a nursing board investigator told a detective that Moore was fired after two complaints against him at the Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center in March 2014 and April 2015, court records state.
Moore also once held a license to work in Alaska but, according to records there, agreed to surrender it in March 2014 amid an investigation into “undisclosed convictions on his license application.” The state denied a request from The Associated Press to disclose the details.
Last year, before his arrest, Moore was fired from the company that owns the Poudre Valley and Greeley hospitals and also lost his job in Nebraska. The hospitals will not say why he was terminated.
Still, he was able to get a nursing license in Wyoming and find a job at a Denver-area hospital. North Suburban Medical Center said it hired an outside firm to do a background investigation on Moore, including checking with his previous employers.
He lost that job after his arrest, and his Colorado nursing license was suspended. Wyoming’s nursing board eventually suspended his license there after being notified of his arrest through a national database of information shared by boards.
Timeline Of Allegations Against Moore
A timeline of the first reported incident in June 2013 to his arrest in December 2015 and the suspension of his nursing license in Wyoming this year:
June 23, 2013: Woman treated at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, accuses Moore of unspecified misconduct. The hospital reports the allegation to police two days later. No charges filed.READ MORE: Denver Weather: After The Coldest Morning In 4 Months, A Big Warmup Is Coming
September 2013: Moore starts working at UCHealth, which operates Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center
Dec. 24, 2013: A woman treated at Poudre Valley Hospital with severe abdominal pain says that while she was under the influence of morphine, Moore inappropriately touched her and kissed her. She reports the allegations to Fort Collins police Aug. 13, 2015.
January 2014: A woman says Moore touched her inappropriately while she was medicated at Poudre Valley. She makes a report in January 2016 after learning Moore had been charged.
March 2, 2014: A woman treated at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff says Moore touched her in a sexual way. She complains to the hospital, but the outcome of the complaint isn’t clear. Fort Collins police find her complaint during an investigation of Moore, leading prosecutors in Nebraska to file charges in January 2016.
March 6, 2014: A woman being treated for abdominal pain at Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center says Moore touched her breasts while massaging her shoulders after giving her pain medication. She says she was in and out of consciousness. She reports the allegations to police a few months later but doesn’t want to pursue charges. She changes her mind after other women step forward.
March 11, 2014: Moore surrenders his nursing license in Alaska amid an investigation into “undisclosed convictions on his license application,” according to state records.
March 28, 2014: A woman who went to Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center for abdominal pain says Moore gave her morphine and touched her breasts. The woman reports the allegation after Moore’s arrest.
June 19, 2014: A woman who went to Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center with pain from kidney stones says she was falling asleep after Moore gave her morphine and Tramadol. She felt him lie next to her but thought she was dreaming until he touched her breast. Moore stopped after someone knocked on the door, she says. She reports the incident after Moore’s arrest.
Dec. 28, 2014: A woman who went to Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center with kidney pain says Moore gave her morphine. She says he touched her breasts. She reports the incident after Moore’s arrest.
January 2015: A woman who went to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff when she was intoxicated and suicidal said Moore touched her breasts. After she was transferred to the behavioral health unit, she says Moore sent her a Facebook friend request and flirtatious messages. She reports the allegations to police in January 2016.
Feb. 3, 2015: A woman who went to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff with a migraine was given an antipsychotic drug and a painkiller. She says she woke to find Moore touching her breasts. When she was discharged, she says Moore told her that the drugs might make her hallucinate. According to court documents, Moore wrote in his nursing notes that she had called him her “lover” when she woke up and said she had a “weird dream.” She contacted Fort Collins police after Moore’s arrest.
March 2015: Regional West Medical Center in Nebraska fires Moore.
June 2015: UCHealth, owner of Poudre Valley Hospital and the Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center, fires Moore
July 2015: Moore starts work at North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton, Colorado.
Aug. 13, 2015: Woman reports alleged Dec. 24, 2013, misconduct at Poudre Valley Hospital to Fort Collins police.
Sept. 21, 2015: Moore gets nursing license in Wyoming.
Dec. 21, 2015: Moore arrested for alleged unlawful sexual contact in the Dec. 24, 2013, Fort Collins case
Jan. 6, 2016: Colorado suspends Moore’s nursing license.
Jan. 20, 2016: Fort Collins police say that a second woman reports being inappropriately touched by Moore at Poudre Valley days after the Dec. 24, 2013 incident
Feb. 29, 2016: Wyoming suspends Moore’s nursing license.
– By COLLEEN SLEVIN, AP Writer
Associated Press researcher Monika Mathur in New York contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)MORE NEWS: Montbello Family Mourns The Loss Of 2 Parents In Deadly Crash In Aurora