NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The man charged with sexually assaulting two patients at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital cannot work as a nurse, at least for now, according to an announcement from the state Office of the Attorney General.
Wilber Hernandez, 29, was arrested in mid-July on four counts of sexual assault, local authorities said at that time. He's facing one count of sexual assault through force or coercion, two counts of criminal sexual contact and one count of lewdness seen by others, according to the state.
The Perth Amboy resident allegedly assaulted a 49-year-old woman who was a patient at the New Brunswick hospital in October 2016, cops said. He's also accused of assaulting a 74-year-old woman, another patient, this June in the emergency room, according to police.
Those allegations caused the state Board of Nursing to temporarily suspend his license, blocking Hernandez from working or identifying himself as a registered nurse, according to the state. Hernandez agreed to the suspension on July 18, and the move was finalized the next day, the state said.
“Nurses have a moral and professional obligation to conduct themselves professionally when caring for their patients. Sexual assault is one of the most egregious violations of that obligation,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a statement. “When dealing with an alleged crime of this severity, immediate license suspension is an appropriate outcome to protect the public.”
If Hernandez beats the charges, he could regain the right to work as a nurse, according to the announcement. But if he were convicted, the nursing board could revoke his license—and punish him further.
While he must give up “all copies” of his nursing license to the state board, the suspension doesn't count as an admission of guilt, according to the state.
“The integrity of the nursing profession must not be compromised by those that are trusted with the care of vulnerable patients,” the director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, Steve Lee, said in a statement. “Those who commit crimes of physical or sexual abuse must be removed promptly from the nursing profession.”
Before this latest step, Robert Wood Johnson suspended Hernandez without pay, pending the outcome of his legal problems.
Hospital officials noted they are “fully committed to providing a safe environment” for patients, visitors and staff members. The administration and employees chose to work “in full cooperation” with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.
Hernandez began working for Robert Wood Johnson in July 2016, according to police.
He also held side-jobs at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick and the North Brunswick-based Maxim Healthcare Services. Those institutions suspended Hernandez, as well.
Before landing in New Brunswick, Hernandez worked as a nurse at Jersey City Medical Hospital, Hackensack Regional Medical Center and St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, all in North Jersey, cops said.
Anyone with information on the active investigation should call Det. Oscar Ayala of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office at 732-745-3600.