Ricardo Mederos took plea deal on lewdness charges
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A former nurse who sexually abused a cancer patient twice as she lay sedated in her hospital bed will serve at least two years in prison, a judge ruled Tuesday.
In court documents first obtained by the 8 News Now Investigators in 2021, police said Ricardo Mederos, assaulted Katherine Burnett, 56, twice in August 2021, while she was a patient at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Burnett told investigators she had received sedatives in the middle of the night and fell asleep both times.
Burnett died in July, records said.
In documents filed this summer, the Clark County District Attorney’s office amended Mederos’ charges to two counts of open or gross lewdness in the presence of a vulnerable person. In court Tuesday, Chief Deputy District Attorney William Rowles referred to the charges as sexual abuse.
“In all reality, your honor, it should be as simple as me saying that this man as a nurse walked into a patient’s room and sexually abused her,” Rowles told Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Schwartz before she sentenced Mederos to two-to-eight years in prison.
During the incident, Mederos touched breast, performed a sex act in front of her and ejaculated on to her, prosecutors said. According to court documents, Mederos told Burnett not to talk about what she saw.
According to police, Mederos told Burnett “he had people that could make sure that [Burnett] didn’t speak again” and “people on this floor will take care of it if you say anything.” In addition, Burnett told police Mederos told her “he would say that I was blackmailing him for pain meds,” documents said.
Fluid on a napkin and on a face mask tested positive for semen, police said. Prosecutors had said in a prior court hearing that Mederos’ DNA matched what was on the napkin and mask.
Before prosecutors filed the amended charges, Mederos had faced harsher felonies, including sexual assault against a vulnerable person.
“I believe that if I don’t speak up, that someone else is going to become his victim or someone else’s victim,” Burnett said in an interview with 8 News Now Investigator David Charns in 2021.
“She was dying of cancer and didn’t want to go back to the hospital because of what this man did,” Rowles said Tuesday.
Rowles read a letter from Burnett’s daughter who said she watched her mother starve herself in grief.
“My mother spoke up because she did not want to remain silent in the background,” Rowles read from the letter.
During the hearing Tuesday, Mederos’ lawyer, Jess Marchese made his case for probation, saying Mederos, a father, has a supportive family. Marchese previously had said the hospital fired his client in 2021. As part of his original bail agreement, a judge ordered Mederos to give up his license.
“That was his career, and to his credit, he pumped the brakes, he stopped going that, he gave up his license,” Marchese said.
On Tuesday, Marchese said Mederos worked at a candy factory.
Mederos did not speak during the sentencing and only told Schwartz he had nothing to say.
“This wasn’t a dream,” Burnett said in 2021. “I woke up. And most people aren’t able to wake up or aren’t aware of what’s going on around them.”
8 News Now does not identify victims of sexual assault, however, Burnett has talked openly about her experience and did an interview with the 8 News Now Investigators.
In a lawsuit filed in 2020, a woman in her late-40s claimed a similar incident involving Mederos happened to her at Sunrise hospital in 2019. Metro closed the case due to lack of evidence, documents said. The plaintiff dropped her lawsuit in February, records said.
That woman also attended Tuesday’s sentencing. She said she was pleased with the outcome and intended to move on with her life.
Burnett filed a civil lawsuit against the hospital in 2021, claiming it “did not report the allegations to the Nevada Board of Nursing.” A judge paused her civil case and the criminal proceedings moved forward. The case’s status was unclear Tuesday since Burnett’s death. It no longer appeared in court records Tuesday.
Representatives for Sunrise had said they do not comment on pending litigation. A representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mederos’ sentence.
Mederos was a licensed registered nurse with the Nevada State Board of Nursing, records show. He had no prior disciplinary record with the board and no criminal history. His nursing license has since expired.