Man sentenced for sex assault at care facility

The man sexually assaulted a 79-year-old dementia patient at an Oak Harbor long-term care center.

A man suffering from severe mental illness received an unusual exceptional sentence below the standard range for sexually assaulting a 79-year-old dementia patient at an Oak Harbor long-term care center, according to court documents.

In January, Robert F. Santacruz, 46, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to attempted rape in the second degree.

On Feb. 26, island County Superior Court Judge Christon Skinner agreed with the joint sentence recommendation from the prosecution and defense and sentenced him to three years in prison. He also ruled that Santacruz should be supervised by the Department of Corrections for life.

Skinner found that Santacruz’s mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, warranted the exceptional sentence below the standard range, which would have normally been an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of 58.5 months and up to life in prison.

In December 2019, staff at the Welcome Home Memory Care Center in Oak Harbor reported that an elderly woman with advanced dementia was found in her wheelchair in Santacruz’s room with her clothes disheveled, which staff members said she could not have done herself.

Santacruz was living in the center because his mental health problems prevented him from living alone.

Documents state that a similar incident occurred with a different patient several months prior.

After his arrest, a judge ordered that a state psychologist conduct a competency evaluation. The psychologist found that Santacruz had acute symptoms of schizophrenia and was not competent to assist in his defense.

The judge ordered that he undergo a 90-day competency restoration process at a state facility. Afterward, he was evaluated again and the psychologist found that his psychotic symptoms had resolved while he was on three medications at the facility, according to the pre-sentence investigation report.

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