Lawsuit alleges one former Grand Junction nurse sexually assaulted potentially ‘thousands’ of victims
Editor's Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.
On Tuesday, the two women nervously sat on their lawyer’s couch, squeezing each other’s hands, giving side hugs, wiping away tears and handing each other tissues.
M.C. and J.V. are victim No. 1 and victim No. 2 in what their lawyers say could amount to thousands of women who suffered sexual assault in the care of a Grand Junction ICU nurse between 2016 and 2022 at St. Mary’s Hospital.
The allegations accuse former nurse Christopher Peter Lambros of routinely going into intensive care unit rooms, administering drugs to deepen female patients’ sedation and then sexually assaulting them. Lambros has been a registered nurse since 2012 and was employed by St. Mary’s Hospital from roughly 2012 to 2022, according to the class-action complaint filed in state court on Tuesday.
Lambros also took tens of thousands of photos and thousands of hours of videos of the patients and of himself assaulting them, the complaint alleges.
“There is no healing right now, it’s like a rollercoaster,” said M.C., in an interview in her lawyer’s office. “My emotions have been really bad, it’s affected everything. Even when I try to block it out. But I just don’t want it to happen to more victims. Because St. Mary’s needs to do something different. I’m sorry but they are responsible for him.”
CPR News does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Lambros reportedly has engaged in this conduct at least since 2016 — with no one catching him or reporting him until earlier this year, the complaint alleges.
Lambros, 61, is currently in a Mesa County Jail on a $1 million bond and faces criminal charges with a sprawling investigation ongoing among the Grand Junction Police Department, the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s office and the U.S. Secret Service.
So far, they have confirmed confiscating 4 terabytes worth of cell phone photos and videos from Lambros’s phone and electronic devices, according to the lawsuit.
That is the equivalent of 700,000 cell phone photos or 65,000 hours of videos, documents said.
“What's key here is our clients didn't go to see Nurse Lambros, they went to St. Mary's for medical care,” said Siddhartha Rathod, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit against SCL Health and Intermountain, which operate St. Mary’s Hospital. “St. Mary's put this monster alone in a room with them without supervision. And this nurse has been doing this at St. Mary's since at least 2016.”
Bryan Johnson, the hospital president, said in a statement on Tuesday that the accused behavior “goes against everything we believe and value at St. Mary’s Medical Center.”
“Patients put their trust in us and should feel safe in our care. We are working closely with law enforcement to protect our patients from those who intend to cause harm,” Johnson said.
M.C. was Lambros’ last victim before he was arrested.
He entered her room 324 on July 9, 2022, when she was sedated and on a ventilator after having trouble breathing, according to the lawsuit. He deepened her sedation with drugs, and then digitally penetrated her and sucked on her breasts, while she was unconscious, according to the complaint. He also placed his head on her bare stomach and used his cell phone to take photos and videos of himself on top of her breasts and genitalia, according to the criminal complaint.
Another employee walked in on him and saw that M.C. was completely uncovered and exposed on the bed. That was when Lambros was reported to law enforcement.
Three days later, employees at SCL Health and Intermountain told M.C.’s husband that his wife was a victim of sexual assault.
At that time, they were about to do a lung biopsy on his wife and he said on Tuesday that, at the time, he was mostly worried about that procedure when they told him. After talking to family members, he sought out an attorney. He also told hospital staff that he wanted to tell his wife the news when she was home and recovered from her sickness.
“I didn't want that hanging over her head, you know, as sick as she was, to prevent her from healing,” he said.
When M.C. got home, her husband told her what happened.
“I thought he was joking,” she said. “And then he showed me the police report and I lost it. They put this monster in the hospital and there’s, you know, I’m not the only one. There are other people out there. It’s been going on way too long and it’s sickening. It’s sickening that a nurse can do this to somebody.”
J.V. lives in a rural town and is a cattle rancher and, in June, checked herself into a Delta hospital when her throat was swollen. Within 20 minutes they had intubated her and she remembers little after that, including the transport to St. Mary’s Hospital, which is a level one trauma center.
While sedated in the intensive care unit, Lambros engaged in similar conduct with J.V. As with M.C., he recorded videos or took photos of it for what he said was his “Dexter” collection, according to the lawsuit.
In one such video from June 24, 2022, Lambros whispers to the camera saying, “don’t ever get rid of these videos” and “you need to keep them forever … This is your Dexter collection.”
“Lambros’s use of the phrase “Dexter collection” is a reference to the television series Dexter. In the Dexter series, the main character Dexter Morgan is a serial killer,” the lawsuit said. “This confirms that he maintained a collection of photos and/or videos of the people he victimized.”
J.V. said her mother tried to visit her, and Lambros told her mother that it wouldn’t be worth the trip to the hospital.
“He convinced my mother that I would never remember her,” J.V. said, tearfully. “And so that left me vulnerable, by myself, for eight days with this monster.”
When J.V. woke up, she told other nurses that Lambros was a “very bad man,” the complaint said.
She refused additional treatment and left the hospital on July 7, 2022. Hospital officials didn’t call her until early November to tell her she was a victim of sexual assault — but she said she still doesn’t completely know what happened to her or how many times.
“They said we have to call you and tell you because this is going public,” she said. “You still have no real answers though. What happened in those days I was knocked out? What happened? I’ve never gotten a straight answer and I’m not sure I ever will.”
J.V. said she continues to pay more than $900 a month in medical bills for her stay.
The hospital said police are continuing to notify “known” victims in the case, but wouldn’t elaborate on how they are discovering these victims and how far back that investigation has gone so far.
“We understand that our former patients may have questions or concerns, and we want to offer them support,” said a hospital statement issued on Tuesday.
Lambros’ next court date is in January in Grand Junction.
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