Crown, defence deliver final arguments in health-care aide’s sex-assault trial

Amado Ceniza, the health-care aide accused of sexually assaulting elderly, physically disabled women in a hospital, was either violating his patients or acting with consent, Victoria provincial court heard Monday.

“We have two diametrically opposed versions,” said prosecutor Jeni Gillings.

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Gillings and defence lawyer Cheyne Hodson wrapped up their cases with final submissions. Judge Dwight Stewart is scheduled to deliver his verdict July 22.

Ceniza, 39, is facing three charges of sexual assault and related charges of sexual interference of a person with a disability. All the offences are said to have occurred during the first two weeks of July 2018 at Aberdeen Hospital where Ceniza worked on a casual basis.

Last week, court heard from three women, in their 60s, 70s and 80s, two in wheelchairs, the other using a walker. They all testified they had been sexually touched. Two of the woman identified Ceniza as the man who touched them. The other woman could not identify him because she had kept her eyes closed.

The women testified the touching occurred around bedtime while they were being washed and having skin lotion applied.

All of the women testified the touching occurred without their consent.

“All three women were credible witnesses, reliable witnesses and they were all consistent,” said Gillings.

In his testimony, Ceniza said he tended to all three women with bedtime hygiene and skin cream or lotion, and only did what he had permission to do.

He said looking out for any problems like dry skin or sores was part of his job. Court heard health-care staff must be vigilant for any sign of skin breakdown because it can lead to dangerous infections.

“With all three women, Mr. Ceniza took these actions with their consent under their direction and he did so while acting within his role as a health care aide,” said Hodson.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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