Avenal nurse suspected of misconduct during checkups

KERN CO, Calif.

Avenal police say patients started coming forward late last year to report a nurse practitioner at Avenal Community Health Center fondling them during checkups.

"The victims were predominately young females, young Hispanic females that were at the clinic for pelvic examinations, some early type pregnancy examinations," Avenal Police Chief Jack Amoroso said.

Investigators believe the longtime medical professional examined hundreds of women during his time working at clinics in Avenal, Stratford, and Kettleman City. But, so far, all of the misconduct allegations stem from exams at the Avenal location.

Amoroso says Sabino was alone with patients when the inappropriate touching took place. If this is true, the chief says it is a violation of proper procedures for these types of exams.

"The victims realized that the exams were not taking the normal course and fortunately the health clinic followed their normal procedure when the victims reported what they perceived were inappropriate examinations," Amoroso said.

After the patients complained to the clinic, their claims were turned over to police. Sabino is a married man and father of two according to his attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt. He visited his client for the first time Friday afternoon.

"My understanding is that Mr. Sabino was a well-respected nurse who provided excellent patient care. This is a bit of a shock to everyone and we will just learn more as we go forward," Hammerschmidt said.

Friday the health clinic in Avenal reopened, a day after police served a warrant, taking away medical records and at least one computer. Police say Sabino targeted women in their late teens or early twenties. Investigators believe he picked victims who had little life experience or those whose credibility may be questioned if they turned him in.

Investigators believe there are more victims who have not come forward yet. Sabino has had his nursing license for the past 16 years. He has worked at the Avenal clinic for several years and is now on administrative leave.

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