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Former Kaiser nurse charged with sexual crimes

Detectives think Alex Woolner may have more victims

Editor's note: This story was updated April 18.

WOOLNERBeaverton Police on Friday arrested a former Kaiser Permanente nurse they said was sexually victimizing patients at a Beaverton clinic.

Police confirmed Monday that at least two of the patients allegedly were victimized after Alex Matthew Woolner's supervisors had heard about the allegations both from a victim and police, and had also received a police report.

Kaiser had put Woolner on a short administrative leave following the initial complaint but could not substantiate the allegations through its own investigation and placed Woolner back on duty, according to a statement from Janet O’Hollaren, a Kaiser vice-president.

Woolner, 37, of North Plains faces one count of first-degree criminal mistreatment, a Class C felony, as well as misdemeanor charges including four counts of third-degree sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree invasion of personal privacy and two counts of computer crimes.

Detectives have identified more alleged victims, but the charges against Woolner so far involve three incidents. Investigators also believe that it's possible there are additional victims not yet identified, according to Officer Mike Rowe, spokesman for the Beaverton Police Department.

Woolner turned himself in at police headquarters on Friday. He was lodged in the Washington County Jail but has since been released on bail.

The allegations first came to light on Jan. 26, when a patient at the Western Avenue clinic reported to Kaiser that Woolner was abusing his position by having physical and verbal contact that was sexual in nature and subjected the victim to an unnecessary and intrusive exam, Rowe said.

Police filed their first report Jan. 28 and reported it to Kaiser that day as well.

Investigators later identified additional victims of similar crimes, including a person who came forward March 6 to report incidents on Feb. 17 and Feb. 26 involving Woolner, Rowe said.

Rowe said detectives didn't begin a full-scale investigation until the additional victim came forward with complaints against Woolner.

They found that Woolner would access victims’ computer medical records to obtain personal cellphone numbers. He would then text and call victims with recommendations for additional medical procedures and directed victims to call him directly instead of Kaiser, Rowe reported.

Police believe Woolner exercised that kind of direct patient contact at the Western Avenue location between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29 of this year.

Kaiser officials requested the police report from the first patient's report on Feb. 2 and conducted their own investigation but allowed Woolner to return to work after being unable to substantiate the allegations.

The additional incidents involving another patient allegedly occurred later that month, after Woolner was taken off administrative leave following the first complaint.

Rowe asked any patients who were seen by Woolner at Kaiser and believe they have information that is pertinent to the ongoing investigation to call the department at 503-629-0111. Callers should reference Case No. 16-740754.

O'Hollaren, Kaiser's vice president of ambulatory care and regional quality and service, issued the following statement regarding Woolner's case:

"The safety of our patients is our highest priority, and we have no tolerance for behavior that puts patients at risk. We are dedicated to ensuring that our care centers are safe and welcoming places of healing. We will be reviewing our operations and policies to identify any additional steps we can take to improve patient safety in the future.

"Alex Matthew Woolner had been employed for two years without complaint. Mr. Woolner was initially placed on administrative leave on January 28, 2016 shortly after Kaiser Permanente received the first patient complaint about his behavior. That complaint was investigated. Unfortunately, that investigation could not confirm that any misconduct had occurred, so Mr. Woolner was allowed to return to work for a brief time. We received additional information and returned Mr. Woolner to administrative leave status on February 29. He resigned his employment with Kaiser Permanente while under investigation."
By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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