WATCH: Island Health officials say they extensively screen all care aides in their facilities after one of its employees was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault. April Lawrence reports.
It houses some of Victoria’s most vulnerable, most of them seniors requiring long-term care, but after a police investigation involving serious and disturbing allegations, a care aide at Aberdeen Hospital is now facing multiple charges.
“It’s been a very stressful time for the individuals, their family and the staff,” said Norm Peters, Island Health Executive Director of Residential Services.
Thirty-nine-year-old Amado Ceniza of Saanich has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.
He has been released on bail with several strict conditions including that he does not contact the three alleged victims, that he not go near Aberdeen Hospital, and that he not be in the presence of anyone in a vulnerable population including the elderly, children, or those with disabilities.
The incidents at Aberdeen are alleged to have occurred between July 1 and July 15, 2018, and Island Health says staff took immediate action after hearing the allegations.
B.C.’s care aide registry says Ceniza has been registered with them since May 2015 but that he was was suspended July 17 of this year.
“In this case, I’m very proud of the staff and how quickly they responded to protect the residents,” said Peters.
Peters said Island Health extensively screens care aides at all of its facilities.
“It’s a six-month program then they need to be registered through the care aid registry and go through regular background checks, criminal checks and reference checks so there is a fair amount of screening in place because of the vulnerable nature of the individuals that they care for,” Peters said.
B.C.’s Seniors Advocate says while sexual abuse in care facilities is rare, it does happen. There were 13 incidents reported in B.C. care facilities last year. Isobel MacKenzie says if something doesn’t look or feel right, always report it to staff.
“Overwhelmingly your loved one is going to b okay, overwhelmingly this is not going to happen to them, having said that it would be irresponsible to say there’s no chance of it happening because there is a chance, clearly,” she said.
While Victoria police say they believe there could be more victims, Island Health says it’s reached out to the families of anyone they believe has been impacted.
“We feel confident we’ve reached out and engaged with any individual that may be impacted by it. We do remain open though to anyone that wants to come totalk with us and get information from the manager of the facility or from Island Health itself,” Peters said.
Ceniza will be back in court on Aug. 1.