Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thomas Ango Oliver - Sexual Predator Strikes again

The alleged molesting of a mentally ill patient at Manatee Glens Hospital by a convicted sexual predator has hospital officials looking for ways to better protect patients.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office reports say Thomas Ango Oliver, 40, molested a female patient at the hospital on New Year's Eve, a week after being released from prison for molesting a child in 2004.

The alleged molestation witnessed by a Manatee Glens nurse occurred after sheriff's deputies brought Oliver to the hospital under the Baker Act, which allows those considered to be a danger to themselves or others to be taken into custody.

But long before Oliver made it to Manatee Glens, his troubled past brought suspicion from sheriff's detectives.

On Christmas Eve, Oliver walked out of state prison after serving more than three years of a five-year sentence for sexually molesting a 10-year-old girl in Polk County.

But he wasn't done with the Florida Department of Corrections.

On probation for 10 years, Oliver moved into a rooming house in Palmetto, causing sheriff's deputies to send notification of his arrival to neighbors, day care centers, schools and churches within a mile of the rooming house, sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said.

It didn't take long for someone to report Oliver acting strangely, prompting sheriff's detectives to check on him, Bristow said.

On Dec. 30, Oliver told detectives that "he had suicidal thoughts and hallucinations." He was taken into custody under the Baker Act, according to sheriff's reports.

At Manatee Glens, a sheriff's deputy who knew of Oliver's sexual-predator status told hospital staff he had just gotten out of prison, but didn't say what for, Bristow said.

The next day a nurse at the hospital went looking for the victim to give her medication. She found Oliver molesting her in a bed, according to sheriff's reports.

Sheriff's deputies were notified immediately, according to Manatee Glens President Mary Ruiz. Oliver would later tell a detective that he "touched a girl." His reason: "Because he wanted to," according to the sheriff's report.

No details about the alleged victim, including her age, were available because of privacy laws..

Also, Ruiz said, by law she cannot say if the hospital knew of Oliver's sexual-predator status, but said the deputy had no obligation by law to tell hospital staff.

A Baker Act apprehension is a civil rather than criminal procedure, meaning law enforcement is not making an arrest, just turning over custody of a person to a mental health hospital, Ruiz said.

Regardless, Bristow said in light of what happened, the sheriff's office will most likely look at making such notifications part of a policy.

"In retrospect, that probably should have been done," he said.

In general, Ruiz said, the hospital does not conduct background checks on incoming patients, but that could change.

Hospital officials plan to ask local law enforcement for recommendations on how to better ensure the give and take of information regarding potentially dangerous patients, she said.

Ruiz declined questions regarding how Oliver was allowed contact with the victim, citing state medical confidentiality laws. But she did weigh in on the damage that has been done.

"It saddens us tremendously. It is shattering for us," Ruiz said. "We are doing everything we can for the victim to make this experience less traumatic."

On Wednesday, the state revoked Oliver's probation, saying he is "in no way amenable to community supervision," according to state corrections reports.

He is being held without bond in the Manatee County jail, with a recommendation from corrections officials for a minimum of 10 years prison. The sheriff's office has also charged with him sexually battery on a mentally defective victim.

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