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Henrico nurse found guilty of attempting to rape patient

The two-day trial began Tuesday morning in Henrico Circuit Court.
Posted at 4:42 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 18:47:25-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- After nearly six hours of deliberating, a Henrico jury returned with a split verdict in the case of a former Henrico nurse accused of raping his patient in 2018.

The jury found Thomas Kamau Nganga guilty of attempted rape and not guilty of abduction.

Nganga worked the overnight shift as a licensed practical nurse at Lexington Rehabilitation and Healthcare, now named Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare. He often cared for dementia patients and others suffering from debilitating issues at the West End facility, according to prosecutors.

After deliberations Wednesday afternoon, the jury gave Nganga the minimum sentence of two years. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, and possibly up to a $100,000 fine.

The Commonwealth requested the maximum sentence.

Prior to sentencing, Nganga's father-in-law said the arrest was traumatizing for the defendant’s two young children.

Nganga moved to the United States on a green card from Kenya more than 20 years ago.

He stated that Nganga worked two jobs to support his wife while she attended VCU full-time.

“I couldn’t comprehend what happened,” his father-in-law told the jury. “He’s a caring parent, he’s a caring father.”

Nganga’s children are now living with their grandparents in Delaware.

“Thomas is a very kind person,” stated Eric Maina-Kaine, the suspect’s cousin by marriage.

Prosecutors called Nganga’s behavior “predatory” and that the crime shed a bad light on all nursing home facilities.

His defense said Nganga has been remorseful and urged the jury not to judge him on one snapshot of his life.

Nganga is now in custody.

Eyewitness testimony

The two-day trial began Tuesday morning in Henrico Circuit Court.

Denise Downing, a certified nursing assistant with 32 years of experience, testified she went to search for another patient known for wandering around when she caught Nganga and the 72-year-old patient together.

Downing said that she was at the end of working a double-shift when she saw Nganga bent over a bed on top of the patient in a room that wasn’t assigned to the woman. The woman was on her stomach, she testified.

Downing said that the patient had been re-assigned to a different room after having issues with her roommate four days prior.

The victim was described as someone confined to a wheelchair who needed around-the-clock help to eat, bathe, and dress herself.

Downing alleged that Nganga’s pants were around his ankles and his buttocks were exposed.

“I couldn’t believe at first what I’m seeing,” Downing testified. “He was pleading his case.”

Downing admitted that she waited until the next morning to notify a supervisor about the alleged incident.

“I was scared for my life. I didn’t know what he was going to do,” she explained.