Former care worker pleads not guilty to six charges of sex assault

A former care aide at Aberdeen Hospital in Victoria pleaded not guilty Tuesday to six sex-assault-related charges.

The charges against Amado Ceniza include sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

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There is a publication ban on information related to the identities of the three alleged victims, who are expected to testify during a three-day trial that began on Tuesday at the Victoria courthouse.

“He’s presumed innocent until proven guilty,” defence lawyer Cheyne Hodson said in an interview.

“On that basis, if he maintains his innocence, he is entitled to a trial.”

The offences are alleged to have happened between July 1 and July 15, 2018.

Ceniza was suspended when the facility and Island Health were made aware of the accusations.

Island Health said last year it will wait for the conclusion of court proceedings before launching a formal review.

All staff who work with vulnerable people are required to provide a criminal-record check, and references from previous employers are checked, Island Health said.

Aberdeen Hospital is an extended care facility providing care to more than 100 elderly residents and 25 young adults with complex neurological challenges, according to Island Health.

The health authority and B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie have said sexual assaults in residential care facilities are rare.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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