Assisted living resident accused of sexual assault

A resident at an assisted living facility in Oak Harbor was arrested on Dec. 9 for the alleged sexual assault of a fellow resident who is suffering from dementia, according to court documents.

The police report also indicates that the suspect, 45-year-old Robert F. Santacruz, was investigated for similar allegations several months ago at Welcome Home Memory Center in Oak Harbor, but he was not charged in the incident, and the alleged victim’s request for a sexual assault protection order was ultimately denied.

Prosecutors charged Santacruz in Island County Superior Court Dec. 12 with attempted rape in the second degree. During a Dec. 10 hearing, a judge set his bail at $25,000.

Documents indicate that he may not have another place to live.

ON DEC. 9, a nurse at the assisted living facility reported to police that he was looking for a 79-year-old dementia patient and found her in Santacruz’s room.

Santacruz suffers from mental health problems.

The woman, who is confined to a wheelchair, told staff members that she “tried to tell him ‘no.’”

The staff reported to police that the woman’s pants and underwear had been pulled down and were inside out.

The staff also told police that the woman wasn’t able to push herself down the hallway or change her own clothes.

Santacruz denied that anyone was in his room but later admitted she had been there; he pointed out that her shoe was in the corner, the report states.

The woman was taken to a medical facility for a sexual assault investigation, and the rape kit was sent for testing; investigators haven’t received results.

ON SEPT. 20, staff at the facility notified police that a different 79-year-old dementia patient, who is non-verbal, was seen coming out of Santacruz’s room in her walker with her pants partially down, the police report states.

Santacruz was allegedly seen zipping up his pants, the police report indicates.

Staff members also told the police that Santacruz had exposed himself to a housekeeper earlier in the day.

Two weeks prior, he was allegedly caught masturbating in a recreation room in front of the woman who is the victim in the Dec. 9 criminal case, the report states.

In the Sept. 20 incident, the police determined that they didn’t have probable cause to arrest Santacruz. The alleged victim was transported to the hospital for a sexual assault examination.

The Washington State Patrol Crime Lab analyzed the rape kit; no semen was found but trace amounts of male DNA were.

The lab is comparing the male DNA to a sample from Santacruz.

ON OCT. 8, a family member of the September victim applied to superior court for a sexual assault protection order on the woman’s behalf and was granted a temporary order.

Santacruz’s mother and an administrator from the facility filed motions to terminate that protection order.

In a letter to the court, Santacruz’s mother wrote that Santacruz did not assault the woman and that it was a misunderstanding. She wrote that Santacruz was changing his pants and the woman walked in on him, so he pushed the woman and her walker out the door. She also wrote that the alleged victim did not show any signs of being upset that something happened.

In addition, Santacruz’s mother wrote that there are no other facilities in Island or Skagit counties that would take him and that he’s been living on her couch in Skagit County since the temporary order was entered.

The protection order caused a financial hardship and put them both on the verge of homelessness, the woman wrote.

An administrator from the facility submitted a list of steps that have been taken to ensure that the woman will be safe and kept separated from Santacruz. Among the steps was a door alarm that was placed on his room.

ON OCT. 22, a court commissioner denied the request for the full sexual assault protection order, finding that a preponderance of the evidence did not establish that a sexual assault occurred.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Social and Health Services said the incident was investigated, but officials concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to prove something did or did not happen.

State DSHS is currently investigating the recent incident.

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