Attorney seeks answers after Duke Hospital employee attacked

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – An attorney for a Duke University Hospital female employee who was assaulted at the hospital about a week ago held a news conference Tuesday to provide new details in the case.

Attorney Justin Bamberg provided additional information about the attack that occurred Sunday, Sept. 20.

The victim was found on a bathroom floor, according to the incident report provided by Bamberg. The victim said she had been in a patient’s room doing an EKG. She then said she went to a bathroom, used the bathroom, washed her hands and was fixing her hair when a man came up behind her and grabbed her neck, a report provided by the attorney stated.

The victim said the man pushed her and choked her. According to the report, the victim could not remember if she had been sexually assaulted. Bamberg said his client woke up with her pants down.

“She lost consciousness and when she woke up, she awoke afraid, alone, bleeding, unable to walk and unable to speak, Bamberg said.

Bamberg said the victim was eventually able to call for help.

He wants to know why the incident wasn’t classified as a sexual assault since Duke employees performed a rape kit.

“There are many questions surrounding this incident, in particular, employees have raised up in high numbers to question why they were not timely notified of this assault. They questioned if their safety was put in danger,” Bamberg said.

After the incident, Duke University Hospital said the incident was not a sexual assault.

The victim has not been identified, but Bamberg says she’s a 26-year-old woman and mother.

A suspect has not been identified in the case. Bamberg also wants to know how the assailant was able to get away. He believes the individual was caught on surveillance video leaving the hospital.

“Many employees have raised concerns of security issues at the hospital. I’ve received information that employees have come into work during these early morning shifts only to see the front desk security sleeping on the job or to see the front desk completely empty,” Bamberg said.

In a statement issued shortly after the incident, Duke University Hospital said they are “committed to continue making Duke University Hospital as safe as possible for our patients, their loved ones and our employees.”

On Tuesday, Duke University Hospital President Kevin Sowers told WNCN that police and security forces have been increased as a precaution.

“Also, I have immediately appointed a security assessment team to quickly evaluate our security measures throughout the medical center and to report back to me with any recommendations,” Sowers said.

Duke University Hospital released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the incident.

“We have not been informed of any new information related to this event, and the ongoing police investigation remains confidential. Our understanding is that this case continues to be investigated as an “assault by strangulation” consistent with the police report on the incident. While aware of the statements made in the news conference this morning, we will avoid responding in the interest of protecting the confidentiality of the ongoing police investigation. The important thing is to let the investigation continue to be guided by the facts as they develop and hopefully result in the swift apprehension of the perpetrator.

We want to clearly express our profound anguish for what this employee was subjected to, and we will continue to support the employee in every way possible.”

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