DA To Dismiss Charges Against Accused General Hospital Rapist; 'Victim' Still May Sue City

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
Goings on at General Hospital have, sadly, resembled goings on at General Hospital
Prosecutors are set to dismiss charges tomorrow against Irving Jovel, the 49-year-old man accused of sodomizing a quadriplegic stroke patient at General Hospital. This move came about after DNA tests on the alleged victim came back negative, defense attorneys say. 

Deputy Public Defender Carmen Aguirre says that the alleged victim, a 52-year-old man with limited ability to communicate, had been moved into Jovel's room 48 hours prior the June 5 incident that led to rape charges.

 "According to the police report," Aguirre says, "the wife comes in and she finds his bloody stool, and ... she said, 'Did something happen? Did that man hurt you?' and 'Did that man rape you?' And she claims he somehow answered in the affirmative. ...The wife was asking him leading questions. One of the family members said 'we noticed that the defendant was strange and had problems and we knew he was weird.' Very suspicious circumstances led to the arrest."

Aguirre says the test results of the bloody stool that came back earlier this month had no trace of Jovel's DNA. Jovel pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Friday, and Aguirre says assistant district attorney Ira Barg called her today to tell her he would move to dismiss the charges at a hearing tomorrow. Calls to the DA's office were not returned today.

Aguirre says the incident -- which made national news -- has been mortifying for Jovel's family, which has resided in San Francisco since immigrating from El Salvador 40 years ago. Jovel suffers from head injuries caused by epileptic seizures. "His family was trying to place him into long-term care and that may be jeopardized by just the arrest record," says Aguirre. "We hope to be able to get the arrest expunged so he can move on with his life."

The alleged victim, whose name has not been released, filed a claim against the city for $50,000 in medical expenses last month for not noticing he was bleeding for at least five hours. According to the claim, he "was forcibly sodomized and suffered physical and psychological injuries. Furthermore, the rape has caused [the complainant] and his family pain and suffering."

The city attorney denied the claim on Aug. 4, paving the way for Jovel's former roommate to potentially file suit against the city in the next six months. Department of Public Health Director Mitch Katz told the Chron in June he didn't know how hospital staff had overlooked the bleeding. "I don't have an answer for that. I know people went into the room and didn't notice a problem."
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