Trial date set for Montpelier man accused of making sexual contact with vulnerable adult
This story courtesy of EastIdahoNews.com. It is used here with permission. –
MONTPELIER — The trial date for a man accused of sexually abusing or exploiting a vulnerable adult has been set for Feb. 5.
Ronald Wade Hunzeker, 64, faces two felony counts of the charge, court records show.
Montpelier police responded to reports of a sexual offense at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital around 5:30 p.m. July 19, 2023, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
When officers arrived, they spoke with an administrator in the assisted living center at the hospital. The administrator reported that an employee had seen Hunzeker, a janitor at the hospital, kissing an elderly patient earlier that day.
The administrator provided officers with a written statement from the witness, which said she had seen Hunzeker touched the victim’s thigh several days prior.
According to police reports, the victim is an 87-year-old woman with advanced dementia. Officers were also informed that a family member of the victim was at the hospital and aware of the incident.
Officers reviewed surveillance footage of both incidents, describing them in the affidavit.
Hunzeker can be seen in the July 19 video leaning over and resting his cheek on the victim’s cheek briefly. He then places his head on her collarbone area before kissing her on the mouth and walking away, the affidavit says.
Officers also described, from a July 11 video, Hunzeker again resting his cheek on the woman’s cheek — this time after kneeling in front of her wheelchair briefly. He then rubs the woman’s neck and thigh area before kissing her and walking away, the affidavit says.
Police reports describe Hunzeker looking around the room several times during the July 11 video. At one point, he is seen looking directly at the camera, then pushing the victim’s wheelchair out of view.
The administrator reportedly told officers that Hunzeker, who had been employed at the hospital for about nine months, was not supposed to be interacting with patients in any way.
Officers attempted to interview the victim, who was described as being “confrontational,” refusing to answer questions. One of the officers reported that the victim’s behavior was consistent with that of someone with advanced dementia, according to the officer’s previous experiences.
The hospital employee who initially reported the incident told officers she had seen Hunzeker sitting with the victim on several occasions and was unsure of their relationship. She said that when she witnessed Hunzeker touching the patient inappropriately, she reported it to administration.
The day after the incident, officers went to Hunzeker’s home to interview him.
Officers informed Hunzeker of the complaint. The officers then showed Hunzeker both surveillance videos, having Hunzeker identify both himself and the victim.
Hunzeker told officers, according to the affidavit, that he had known the victim since he started working at the hospital. He said he had kissed the victim, but nothing more.
When officers informed Hunzeker that hospital staff would be reviewing all surveillance footage and examining the victim for signs of sexual activity, Hunzeker “began sweating profusely,” the affidavit says.
Hunzeker then allegedly admitted to touching the victim for the purpose of sexual gratification.
Hunzeker was arrested and taken to Caribou County Jail, where he is being held as he awaits jury trial.
Though Hunzeker has been charged with these crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.
If he is found guilty, Hunzeker would face up to 50 years in prison.