It’s not the best position for the prosecution to find itself in.
Fired Perkins police detective James “Al” Jenkins is scheduled to testify Tuesday in a suppression hearing in Erie County Common Pleas Court in the case against a former night-shift nurse accused of raping and sexually abusing many of his former patients.
For complete coverage of the Riems case, click here.
Jenkins was fired Dec. 9 by the Perkins Township Trustees for dishonesty. Trustees said he lied during an investigation into the department’s gun inventory.
Jenkins is one of two detectives present when John R. Riems, 50, confessed in January to sexually violating 23 patients during his nursing career, including 14 patients at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center.
Riems is in the Erie County jail with bond set at $500,000. He is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 20.
The case got international press coverage when allegations against Riems surfaced. Police said Riems admitted abusing as many as 100 patients during his 22-year career.
Jenkins and Erie County Sheriff’s Det. Jared Oliver interviewed Riems in January, when they say Riems admitted to sexually assaulting 23 patients.
Troy Wisehart, Riems’ attorney, is trying to have the interview thrown out on the basis that Riems’ confession was coerced.
Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter does not believe Jenkins’ firing will hurt the case against Riems.
“I don’t think it has any relevance to this case,” Baxter said. “It’s a personnel issue. He’s not convicted of any crime or anything of that nature that you use to impeach people.”
Judge Tygh Tone will decide whether the confession is admissible. Baxter said Tone will be fair.
“I’m sure Judge Tone is aware of Al Jenkins and the trial and tribulations he’s having with the township trustees. I think Judge Tone will focus simply on this case and the issues pertaining to this specific case,” Baxter said.
Psychologist Galit Askenazi Dori is expected to testify for the defense. Dori interviewed Riems, Wisehart said, and believes the former nurse suffers from a “disorder that makes him susceptible to coercion.”
Wisehart, who did not return a call for comment, also has taken depositions from two of Riems’ alleged victims who said they were not violated by Riems. One of them is a former nurse who provided a videotaped deposition just before she died.
Riems has been charged with 15 counts of rape, three counts of sexual battery, one count of gross sexual imposition, three counts of patient abuse and one count of felonious sexual penetration.
The original charges against Riems stemmed from accusations that he abused two male patients at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center in Perkins Township. One of those patients is a 55-year-old blind and partially paralyzed man, and the other is a man in his 80s, investigators said.