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Former Anchorage hospital employee sentenced for sex abuse of teen patients

Jerzy Shedlock

Former patient care technician Allen Kelly Miller, 29, was sentenced Monday in Anchorage Superior Court to 15 years in prison with three suspended for sexually abusing two girls under his care at Providence Alaska Medical Center in 2013.

The state argued, and Judge Jack Smith found, that two aggravating circumstances applied in Miller’s case: the defendant’s offense was the worst in its category, and he had abused multiple victims more than once.

Smith said Miller’s crimes offend the community, and he added that patients should be able to expect adequate recuperation from injury or illness while under the care of a hospital, not abhorrent abuse.

Online court records indicate one victim’s family has filed a civil case against the hospital, Miller and 20 other unidentified people.

Miller pleaded guilty to a single attempted second-degree sexual assault charge in February. However, according to court testimony, he sexually abused two underage girls at Providence and would have faced numerous charges had the case gone before a jury.

Miller was originally charged with first-degree harassment and third-degree sexual abuse of a minor in addition to attempted sex abuse. The state dismissed the two felonies as part of a plea deal.

According to the deal, Miller agreed to the factual basis of the charges lodged against him, which said he abused the girls while on the job last year.

On Aug. 30, 2013, a 17-year-old at Providence told Anchorage police Miller had abused her. The girl had been hospitalized for an extended period after a vehicle accident. She awoke in her hospital bed on Providence’s pediatric wing and found Miller touching her thighs, the charges say.

About a month later, a 14-year-old patient told her family Miller sexually abused her on two occasions. The girl reported that Miller abused her months earlier but she was too scared to call for help or report what had happened “because she was dependent on Miller for her care,” according to court documents.

Miller started his job in January 2013. He’d previously worked as a medical care provider in Oregon, police say. Patient care technicians work under nurses and help admit patients, take vital signs and sometimes give baths. Providence fired Miller a day after his arrest.

State argued for 25 years, 10 suspended

Assistant District Attorney Jack McKenna argued for a longer sentence. While there is no typical sex abuse case, the prosecutor said, Miller’s control over his two victims was comparable to a teacher-student relationship.

The presumptive range for second-degree sex abuse of a minor is two to 12 years. McKenna recommended 25 years with 10 suspended, as well as 10 years of probation. He argued several aggravating factors to lengthen Miller’s sentence.

Despite the single charge, McKenna asked the court to examine the crimes that “were actually committed,” he said.

Miller’s abuse had a ripple effect, affecting the victims’ families, friends and the hospital, McKenna said. He noted the Alaska Legislature, in strengthening its sentencing guidelines for sex offenders, has recognized young sex abuse victims suffer lifelong effects.

The prosecutor acknowledged that Miller lacked a criminal record and rehabilitation should be considered. Still, the defendant’s brazen actions called for a harsher sentence, he said.

“It’s shocking he got away with it for as long as he did,” McKenna said.

Defense attorney Jim Corrigan argued for a lesser sentence, stating his client’s jail time should fall somewhere between three and 11 years. He said Miller was a young man with a set career path before derailing that future through inappropriate actions.

Miller is an “excellent prospect for rehabilitation,” he said. Corrigan argued Miller recognizes the hurt he’s caused.

“This is not some unfeeling sociopath,” Corrigan said.

Having already enrolled in correspondence classes in jail, Miller is planning his life upon release. The defense attorney argued against a probation condition that his client not be permitted to use the Internet. He said he needed such access to find a job, but Judge Smith kept the restriction in place.

Investigators found web searches for explicit material involving underage girls on his computer, according to court testimony.

Speaking before the court Monday, Miller said the only solace he can offer his victims and their families is continuing down a path of rehabilitation.

“The hurt I caused is immeasurable,” he said. “I’m so sorry I put you through this ... I think about the man I was and it disgusts me. I’m responsible for my behavior and deserve the blame.”

‘Killed the very essence of my spirit’

The family of one of the victims was present for three sentencing hearings; the court delayed Miller’s sentencing twice while the judge reviewed video depositions and the state formulated arguments for lengthening the defendant’s jail term.

In June, the mother of the younger victim read a victim impact statement from her daughter to the court. The 14-year-old had more questions than harsh words for her abuser. She asked why Miller would abuse her, what went through his mind and whether he still thinks about what he did.

Long-lasting damage was done, according to the teenager. Miller “killed the very essence of my spirit,” she wrote.

“This man is what every parent warned their children about growing up,” the father of that victim said. He asked Smith to consider that Miller should have to contemplate his actions for the rest of his life.

Civil suit ongoing

Judge Smith said Monday that Miller would be required to pay restitution to both his victims.

The families are seeking reparations from Providence as well. A civil complaint alleges the hospital was aware of the 14-year-old’s potentially life-threatening medical condition (she has cystic fibrosis) and held the “highest duty” to provide appropriate care and protection.

“Thus, the culpable conduct and acts and/or failure to act of the defendants were negligent, reckless, indifferent … and inflicted extreme injury and emotional distress” on the plaintiffs, the complaint says.

The names of the 20 other defendants in the case are Miller’s supervisors and fellow employees, the complaint says. Those “John and Jane Does” allowed Miller access to children in the hospital’s pediatric unit despite their “actual or imputed knowledge” of his inappropriate behavior.

Providence denied the allegations in a reply to the complaint. Among its defenses, the hospital’s attorney Chester Gilmore wrote, “Plaintiffs’ damages, if any, are the result of their own negligent or intentional acts, or the negligent or intentional acts of other plaintiffs.”

The family’s attorneys, the law officers of Phillip Paul Weidner and Associates, responded in a prepared statement decrying Providence’s claim that the acts of its minor client caused the abuse. “We hope Providence Hospital will acknowledge and accept responsibility and cease blaming the minor victim and her family.”

Providence spokeswoman Ginger Houghton said the hospital isn't trying to blame the victim for the abuse.

"That section of the document applies to other aspects of the plaintiffs' complaint and not the abuse," she said.

Following Miller’s sentencing Monday, a Providence spokesperson said its hiring policy and processes with regard to abuse were reviewed, and the hospital found both were followed appropriately in Miller's case.

Hiring at the hospital “continues to include screening applicants carefully with background checks and with pre-employment screening inquiries,” Houghton wrote.

As for the abuse, “We affirmed and enhanced Providence Alaska Medical Center’s policy, expanding it across all Providence facilities in Alaska. We also added a state notification requirement: When we become aware that an employee is charged with a crime, we notify the state within 24 hours,” she wrote.