Utah nurse, once accused of sex abuse, moves on after settling suit against police

Joshua Platte Shumway was paid $500,000 by Roosevelt City’s insurer.<br>

A year after he settled a lawsuit claiming police coerced a false confession that he had sexually abused a patient at a Roosevelt hospital, former nurse Joshua Platte Shumway is moving on with his life and says he has no hard feelings about the matter.

“I’m not bitter,” Shumway, now 30, said Thursday. “All of this was human error.”

The criminal case against him was dropped in 2015 at the request of prosecutors after 8th District Judge Edwin Peterson — citing a botched police investigation and manipulative interrogation techniques — suppressed every statement Shumway made during police interviews. The judge also said he would not allow the alleged victim to identify Shumway at trial because the identification procedure was tainted.

Shumway filed suit in U.S. District Court in January 2016 alleging Roosevelt Police Department detective Peter Butcher violated his civil rights by wrongfully arresting and imprisoning him, using their mutual Mormon faith to coerce a false confession and misleading a judge about the strength of the case. In addition to Butcher, Roosevelt City and its police department were named as defendants.

The suit was settled in August 2016 with a payment under a city insurance policy of $500,000 to Shumway. The settlement agreement specifies that the defendants dispute Shumway’s claims.

Shumway, who now lives in Vineyard in Utah County and works at a data storage center, said he is going back to school to get a computer science degree.

“I’m pointed in a better direction,” he said.

In December 2013, Shumway signed a stipulation that findings of fact made by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) that he “touched a patient in an inappropriate sexual manner on more than one occasion while working at a Utah hospital,” which constitutes unprofessional conduct. He neither admitted nor denied the allegation but voluntarily surrendered his nursing license.

Shumway has said a DOPL representative who visited him in jail said he had to sign papers giving up his nursing license because of the alleged crimes and that he was not informed he had a choice. However, the document he signed said he had the right to be represented by counsel in the matter and to have a hearing before the state Board of Nursing, where he could present evidence on his own behalf and call witnesses.

DOPL in March granted Shumway’s application for a license to practice as a registered nurse, but the 2013 the stipulation remains in his file. Although he has no plans to work as a nurse, Shumway said he is working to get the stipulation removed.

Shumway was charged in December 2013 with felony counts of forcible sexual abuse, object rape and forcible sodomy. An amended information added allegations of rape and aggravated assault to the 8th District Court case.

A woman who was at Uintah Basin Medical Center for surgery and stayed the night to recover alleged that during the night of April 16, 2013, a male nurse came into her room and allegedly sexually assaulted her on five occasions. The nurse also gave her medication and placed her hand on her automatic morphine injector pump to activate it, according to the charges.

The patient sought therapy after that night, and by Dec. 4, 2013, one of her medical doctors told someone at the hospital about the alleged assault. Investigators determined that Shumway — who by then was working at another hospital — had been working that night and, based on a medication log, administered a drug to the victim. Shumway was arrested and booked into the Duchesne County jail.

But according to Peterson’s 2015 ruling, the victim described her assailant as a man who wore a name tag with “Green” on it, and he had a tattoo on his arm. Butcher failed to mention in his affidavit for Shumway’s arrest warrant that those details don’t match Shumway’s description, the judge wrote.

Peterson even questioned the notion that the suspect was a nurse. The victim testified at an evidence hearing that she believed the perpetrator was a nurse only because he wore scrubs, but that he said he was not her nurse.

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