Physical therapist at Harrisburg nursing home accused of inappropriately touching patients
HARRISBURG — A physical therapist employed at a Harrisburg nursing home is charged with three counts of indecent assault after police say he inappropriately touched the genitals of patients under his care.
Rene Eral Paran, 29, of Dover, was charged on Feb. 27 after two patients at The Gardens at Blue Ridge nursing home on the 3600 block of North Progress Avenue accused him of touching them inappropriately during prescribed physical therapy sessions.
Susquehanna Township police were notified on Feb. 9, according to the criminal complaint.
The first patient to come forward told police that during physical therapy sessions with Paran, the therapist would always find some reason for the patient to remove his pants, the criminal complaint says. Paran would say the pants were stained or wet, the patient said, and then would remain present while the patient changed. The patient said that during one session, Paran touched his penis and commented about its size.
During an interview with police, Paran allegedly said he assisted the patient in changing one time, because the patient’s pants were soaked in urine and feces. He said their discussions were jokes designed to ease the tension of the silence during the encounter.
Paran initially said he had only worked with the patient one time, but physical therapy records at the nursing home revealed that Paran had seen the patient seven times. When shown the records, Paran said he initially misunderstood the initial question.
A second patient came forward with a similar allegation on Feb. 13, according to the criminal complaint. The second patient, who is an amputee, told police that Paran would come up with a reason that the patient would need to remove his pants, and then insist on assisting the patient — even when the patient protested.
The alleged abuse continued for weeks before the patient could alert a social worker, according to the criminal complaint. The patient saw Paran for sessions 14 times, according to the criminal complaint.
When asked why they didn’t report Paran sooner, the criminal complaint says, both patients told police they didn’t want to cause any problems.
In a second interview with police, Paran eventually admitted that he has been struggling with sexual identity issues and that he touched the patients because was “exploring.” Paran told police it was not his intention to have the patients feel as though they were being abused or that they were victims, and that he regretted using his position as a physical therapist to explore and satisfy his sexual curiosity, according to the criminal complaint.
The charges against Paran, which are second-degree misdemeanor counts, were filed via summons, the criminal complaint says.