Police charge patient with assault, battery

A patient at the University Medical Center's psychiatric ward has been charged with sexual assault and battery as well as verbal abuse against three women.

James Phillip Ritch Jr., a 42-year-old of Colonial Beach, Va., allegedly touched one victim inappropriately Nov. 27. The same day, two others reported that they suffered from unwanted touching. Ritch also allegedly verbally abused the first two victims.

All of the victims were female, ranging from 20 to 41 years of age. All of the victims were patients in the University Medical Center's psychiatric ward.

University Police charged Ritch on Nov. 29 with one count of sexual battery, two counts of assault and battery, and two counts of verbal abuse.

"It's a pretty simple case. [Ritch] battered one and abused two others," University Police Sgt. Melissa Fielding said.

Ritch has been held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail under a $2,500 secure bond since his arrest. He is scheduled to appear in Charlottesville General District Court on Dec. 17.

These incidents are the latest in a long string of problems that the University Medical Center has been dealing with since this summer.

Patient care assistant Rudolph T. Johnson Jr. was arrested in May on charges of allegedly raping a patient in the psychiatric ward. Two more rape accusations later were made, but Johnson only was formally charged in one incident.

Following Johnson's arrest, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted an investigation of the Medical Center's patient care. The report found several deficiencies including the improper use of psychiatric restraints.

CMS officials put the Medical Center on immediate jeopardy status after these incidents, prompting policy changes from the hospital. The Medical Center submitted a plan last spring to comply with the CMS report.

"Policies were changed with the incidents that occurred last spring," University spokeswoman Louise Dudley said. "The incidents triggered internal and external review of the hospital."

The Medical Center was taken off of immediate jeopardy status in early July, and it has undergone a comprehensive policy study to help solve other problems.

The Medical Center currently is conducting an internal review of things that need to be changed because of Ritch's incident, Dudley said.

"They will perform an internal review to see what happened and to determine if any internal changes are required," she said.

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