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Ex-CEO of company that operated facility where woman gave birth while incapacitated was accused of sexual harassment for years

And the board did not fire him.

by Carter Sherman
Jan 25 2019, 5:28pm

Correction 5/24: A previous version of this story and headline referred to the woman as in a “vegetative state.” The text has been updated to reflect that she has “some ability to move” and is “alert,” according to her family’s lawyer.

The CEO of Hacienda Healthcare, who resigned earlier this month after a patient gave birth while incapacitated at one of the Phoenix-based organization’s care facilities, was repeatedly accused of sexual harassment for years, the Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

The board was aware of allegations against the CEO, Bill Timmons, and did not fire him. Instead, he was ordered to undergo counseling and training sessions, Tom Pomeroy, the Hacienda board chairman, confirmed to VICE News in a statement. He also lost out on bonuses and raises.

When Timmons first met Louise Jay, who managed one of Hacienda’s thrift shops, at a fundraiser, Jay told the Republic that he leaned in and asked her, “What was that? Cunnilingus? Fellatio?"

“"I said, 'You can't speak to me that way,’” Jay said. “He said, 'Why not?'"

Timmons also allegedly told Jay that he wanted to kiss her and asked her about her sexual urges and masturbation habits, according to the Republic. Jay reported the incident shortly afterwards but called the reporting process “intimidating.” One employee, she said, even cautioned her against reporting. But she didn’t give up.

"It wasn't that he [Timmons] was being sexy or flirty," Jay told the Republic. "He was exhibiting his power and dominance over me."

At least two other women also reportedly filed sexual harassment complaints against Timmons. One woman said that Timmons groped her buttocks, while another said he made suggestive remarks and tried to insist that she date him.

The CEO also engaged in other bizarre, intimidating behavior, such as taking off a soiled shirt and sitting through a meeting bare-chested, walking on a conference table while agitated, and yelling at an aide, according to the Republic.

In his statement, Pomeroy said that the board had been aware of allegations of sexual harassment and of employees being “treated poorly” by Timmons in 2006. He said that board members took the allegations seriously, and even hired lawyers to look into the most serious claims.

"In the wake of Timmons’ resignation, people have raised the question of whether he should have been fired years ago. While in hindsight it may appear to be an easy call, it was not that simple in the moment,” Pomeroy said in the statement. “While Timmons attracted controversy and detractors, his years-long advocacy for Hacienda's clients and their families helped fuel the growth of the company and increase its ability to change lives for the better.”

"Regardless, no amount of success changes one critical fact: What happened at Hacienda should never have happened — and can never happen again,” Pomeroy added.

On Tuesday, Arizona police arrested the alleged father of the baby birthed by the incapacitated patient , after taking DNA samples from the male employees at the Phoenix care facility where she lived. The man arrested, Nathan Sutherland, worked as a nurse at the facility and has been charged with vulnerable adult abuse and sexual assault.

Cover image: This Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, photo shows Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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