A registered nurse at Oregon State Hospital sexually abused a patient, carrying on a relationship that possibly lasted two years and involved more than 100 phone calls and sexual encounters in a linen closet.
The Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations closed its investigation into former nurse Jennifer Barren's behavior Dec. 10. The report was released Wednesday, obtained through a public records request by the Statesman Journal.
Barren was not available for comment on Thursday.
Barren, 43, is one of two hospital employees who were investigated for sexual abuse last year. Hers is the first investigation of the pair to conclude and be released to the public. The state investigation into allegations against mental health aide Tony Martinez, who resigned Sept. 20, is ongoing, said hospital spokeswoman Rebeka Gipson-King.
Barren was not immediately placed on suspension or administrative leave when allegations were filed against her on Aug. 6, but she did not return to work and resigned Aug. 13, and did not receive severance pay, Gipson-King said. She was hired in June 2010, according to an internal newsletter.
This investigation was not the first time Barren's relationship with the patient was called into question.
The hospital's human resources issued a letter of warning over her"boundary issues" with the same patient, including spending too much time with him, touching him inappropriately and using nicknames. Some witnesses also said the patient bought her jewelry while away from the hospital.
"There must be an immediate and permanent change in your behavior," the warning letter said. It also referenced a hospital policy that employees may not accept gifts from patients and "shall not establish relationships with patients beyond the level expected by their position description," according to the state's investigation report.
The state's investigation began after the Oregon State Police closed its own criminal investigation into the allegations against Barren on Sept. 13. She refused to be interviewed for the state investigation.
The concluding report from OAAPI said Barren and the patient were caught on a security camera six times going into a linen closet that has no windows or cameras, for as many as seven minutes at a time. On every occasion, the patient left the room carrying a pile of towels at his waistline, and on one occasion, Barren came out with her tunic pulled above her waistline.
It also found that the relationship apparently continued after Barren had resigned and after the investigation was underway.
Phone records showed Barren and the patient spoke on the phone at least 110 times, for a total of 113 hours, between Nov. 8 and Nov. 24. It also mentions three other phone calls on the patient's phone to a number that isn't confirmed as Barren's, but "the durations of the calls are consistent with other identified calls to or from Barren's number."
Those three calls totaled about 8.5 hours.
The report concluded the ongoing relationship between Barren and the patient was enough to substantiate the allegations of sexual abuse.
"Although there is no direct evidence of actual sexual contact between Barren and (the patient), there is significant evidence of an inappropriate relationship, one that Barren was continuously warned about and previously disciplined for," the report said.
"The information obtained in this investigation clearly supports the allegation that Jennifer Barren sexually abused (the patient) by failing to discourage (the patient's) sexual advances toward her," it said. "Therefore, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the allegation is substantiated."
Oregon State Police spokesman Gregg Hastings said no charges were filed after the OSP investigation.
"The victim and (former) OSH employee (Jennifer Barren) refused to cooperate or provide a statement and there were no witnesses or evidence to substantiate any actual sexual contact occurred," he said in an email Thursday. "Without any facts or evidence to substantiate an alleged crime occurred, the investigation was stopped and concluded as unfounded four days later."
State court records show speeding tickets, a divorce in 2010 and a foreclosure in 2013 but no criminal charges of any kind in Barren's history.
Oregon State Board of Nursing Spokeswoman Barbara Holtry said the board typically does its own investigation if another agency has substantiated findings against a nurse.