Updated at 5:40 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023
A former Grand Junction nurse will spend two decades in prison for sexually assaulting unconscious patients beginning in 2016.
Christopher Lambros, 62, pleaded guilty Friday in Mesa County to six counts of attempted sexual assault, a class 5 felony, with each carrying a sentence of three years and eight months. Lambros was credited with 410 days of pre-sentence confinement on each count for the period he's been in jail prior to Friday's proceedings.
Some victims were in attendance for the sentencing. Ahead of the hearing, they waited outside the courtroom, exchanging hugs.
Of the six charges, five regarded a specific victim, while a sixth charge described the victim as “Jane Does,” referring to eight unidentified patients that were similarly abused. Colorado Public Radio does not identify the victims of sexual assault.
Lambros was arrested in October 2022. According to the arrest affidavit, law enforcement received a report in July of that year of him allegedly taking photos of an unconscious female patient whose breasts and genitalia were exposed.
Subsequent investigation found that Lambros had significant amounts of data that included more photos and videos, requiring the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service to process. Lambros was a nurse at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction for 10 years.
Twenty-first Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said the investigation suggests 13 individual victims, but only five could be identified.
Rubinstein said not every victim could be identified by name, but they were able to identify individual cases and track down patients with the help of St. Mary’s.
One victim, J.V., said they would live with the experience the rest of their life.
“It will never go away for all of us victims,” J.V. said. “We will never heal completely from what he did to us.”
An employee walked in on Lambros assaulting a patient in 2022, prompting the investigation. In a statement to the court she said she and other St. Mary’s Medical Center employees have been guilt stricken since the crimes came to light.
“Since July 9, 2022, I’ve felt like I failed my patients,” they said.
In a statement Friday night, St. Mary’s said their commitment to patient safety “is unwavering and continues to be our highest priority.”
“Learning the charges that Christopher Lambros has pleaded guilty to is disheartening. We thank the Grand Junction Police Department for their work and we thank the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office in prosecuting the case,” the statement said.
Some victims are in the process of suing the hospital.
Scott Burrill, Lambros’ public defender, said Lambros was apologetic and forthright about the investigation. He said Lambros was severely abused as a child, according to conversations he had with Lambros and his siblings, which he said may explain his client’s actions.
“From the first day I met Mr. Lambros, he wanted to plead guilty and admit to what he’s done,” Burrill said.
For his part, Lambros said “I’m sorry and I hope people forgive me.”
Burrill explained there were delays in the plea deal because of the difficulty in parsing through digital photos and videos in evidence. Burrill noted that the significant volume of data, reported to be 4 terabytes, did not reflect an overwhelming cache of photos and videos, but rather the dense way the data was collected and processed.
The case was heard by Judge Gretchen Larson, who reflected on the severity of the case.
“This was the first I learned that some of the victims died,” Larson said. “The idea of these women being molested as they took their last breath is haunting to the court.”
One speaker told the court her daughter, who passed away in the intensive care unit, was one of the victims identified in the case.
Larson also commended the hospital employee for alerting authorities to Lambros’ behavior,
“It’s not your responsibility. The minute you found out you did the right thing and you reported it,” Larson said, adding that the guilt the witness felt showed “the depth of compassion” that healthcare workers can demonstrate.
Another victim, M.C., said of the witness: “She’s my angel.”
This story has been updated.
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