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Jury to deliberate fate of Henrico nurse accused of raping patient

Prosecutors said the woman has no immediate family and was totally dependent on the care of others.
Posted at 9:00 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 11:16:33-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – A jury will soon deliberate the fate of a former Henrico nurse accused of raping his patient in 2018.

Thomas Kamau Nganga was charged with attempted rape and abduction after a staff member at Lexington Rehabilitation and Healthcare reported him having sexual contact with a resident in October 2018.

The two-day trial began Tuesday morning in Henrico Circuit Court, and the jury is expected to being deliberations on Wednesday morning

Nganga plead not guilty to the crimes.

The defendant worked the overnight shift as a licensed practical nurse caring most often for dementia patients and others suffering from debilitating issues, according to prosecutors.

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.

Candace Clark, a registered nurse and former unit manager at Lexington Court, described the patient as a “pleasant lady” who was “stuck in her childhood era.”

Prosecutors said the woman has no immediate family and was totally dependent on the care of others.

Keena Heise, a forensic scientist with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, testified that no male DNA was found on the patient.

Christine Stevens, who works as a forensic nurse for Bon Secours Richmond Nursing, told the jury she examined the victim, but that she was unable to perform a full forensic exam because the victim expressed she was in pain. She then then stopped the exam.

Henrico Police Detective Zachary Noah was assigned to the special victims unit and the case in 2018, and testified that Nganga agreed to speak with him and Detective Hernandez about the incident.

Nganga told detectives the patient’s diaper needed to be changed so he pushed her wheelchair to a room, according to Noah.

Prosecutors played three video clips of the nearly 90 minute interview. Nganga showed detectives how the patient fell over on the bed when he attempted to lift her out of her wheelchair.

Nganga explained that his scrubs fell down off his waist because they were loose and he was “embarrassed,” according to the detective.

The defense argued that in the same interview Nganga denied any wrongdoing 16 times and said Downing was lying.

She said no physical nor DNA evidence tied her client to the crime and multiple employees described the Lexington Court work environment was chaotic.

Nganga was ordered on house arrest after he was released from jail last year.

Virginia Board of Nursing revoked Nganga’s license to practice nursing. A formal hearing is scheduled for March 18.

The West End facility on Cambridge Drive has since been renamed Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare.

A nursing home administrator said after the arrest that male nurses were removed from working in the unit that Nganga was assigned to, and cameras were also added to the facility.