Former nurse sentenced
for raping patient

The 38-year-old civilian drugged
and assaulted a military dependent

By Debra Barayuga

A former civilian nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center was sentenced yesterday to six years and six months in federal prison for sexually abusing a patient under his care.

Tyrone Fellers, 38, pleaded guilty Feb. 8 just before trial was to start to one count of sexual abuse in U.S. District Court stemming from a March 2001 incident.

The victim, in her 20s, was a military dependent and was at the military hospital for a two- to three-day stay. She was administered medication and was incapacitated to some degree and unable to resist when Fellers sexually assaulted her, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Porter.

The woman reported the incident to other hospital staff.

Fellers faced between 63 and 78 months' imprisonment under federal sentencing guidelines.

"The sentence, on the top end of the guidelines, was completely and entirely appropriate given his actions," Porter said.

Not only did Fellers abuse his position of trust, but he also took advantage of the fact that she could not defend herself and stop the assault, prosecutors said.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra agreed. "What was done here was inexcusable and inexplicable," he said.

Not only must the victim deal with the emotional damage, but so must her family, he said. She is married with two children.

According to a letter the woman submitted to the court, she no longer feels she can trust hospital staff. She suffers from bad dreams. She has panic attacks in public and could not leave her house alone for months after the assault.

"I don't want him to ever have a chance to hurt anybody again," she wrote. "He has given me a lifetime sentence."

Ezra noted that this was an isolated case and that Tripler provides good care to most patients.

Fellers apologized for his actions and told Ezra he would accept his decision.

"I am very remorseful and regretful for what has happened," Fellers said. "I'm pretty much angry with myself and about what I put the family through and everybody else."

Fellers is married and has three children.

His attorney, federal public defender William Domingo, said Fellers sought counseling here and recently began counseling in Missouri, to where he moved after the incident.

Fellers had worked at Tripler for a couple of years before the assault and had worked there previously while still in the Army. After the incident, Fellers voluntarily resigned from Tripler and has since lost his nursing license, Porter said.

Domingo said he does not believe Fellers will ever return to nursing.

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