Nurse ad­mit­ted grop­ing Rich­land pa­tient, says he did not mean to hurt her

Tri-City Herald - - Local News - BY CAMERON PROBERT [email protected]­i­ty­her­ald.com Cameron Probert: 509-582-1402, @cameron­cprobert

A reg­is­tered nurse told a judge he didn’t mean to harm a wheel­chair-bound pa­tient though he groped her over sev­eral weeks.

In a deal that Deputy Prose­cu­tor Anita Pe­tra called “heav­ily ne­go­ti­ated,” Tae­woo Khang, 41, of Kennewick, pleaded guilty to fourth-de­gree as­sault with sex­ual mo­ti­va­tion.

Along with five days of work re­lease, Pe­tra and de­fense at­tor­ney John Jensen rec­om­mended an eval­u­a­tion and pos­si­ble sex of­fender treat­ment. If Khang doesn’t fol­low through, he faces spend­ing a year in the county jail.

“We sup­port this res­o­lu­tion and given the cir­cum­stances of the case, I feel this is the best res­o­lu­tion,” Pe­tra said.

Khang was treat­ing the woman for a bone in­fec­tion at the Life Care Cen­ter of Rich­land last year, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments. He started with overly af­fec­tion­ate hugs, then he asked per­sonal ques­tions and be­gan touch­ing her in­ap­pro­pri­ately, court doc­u­ments said.

Then in May 2017, she woke up to find Khang on top of her, kiss­ing and grop­ing her, said court doc­u­ments. At the time, Khang had been a nurse for more than seven years. The state Depart­ment of Health has charged Khang with un­pro­fes­sional con­duct. He no longer works at the cen­ter.

Khang faces los­ing a ca­reer and will have to start over again, Jensen said.

While Khang speaks English, his at­tor­ney said he was raised in South Ko­rea so a cul­tural gap may have led to a mis­un­der­stand­ing with the woman.

“Clearly the vic­tim in this case had said nice things to him, maybe just ap­pre­ci­at­ing his nurs­ing abil­i­ties, but be­cause of that he ended up de­vel­op­ing feel­ings for her,” Jensen said. “I think his heart was in the right place, and by that I mean he didn’t in­tend to make the vic­tim feel un­com­fort­able.”

Khang apol­o­gized for his be­hav­ior.

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