How many snowflakes fall in a New York snow storm? That is how many patients Respiratory Therapist Wayne Albert Bleyle has alluded to molesting. Bleyle violated the personal boundaries of unconscious, comatose and paralyzed children, by sexually molesting, touching and photographing the children in sexually compromising positions in the ten years he worked the convalescent home of the Rady Children’s Hospital.
The children at Rady Children’s Convalescent Home, San Diego, California, are some of the sickest children, the most disabled children, children often hurt badly from car accidents, birthing accidents and tragic accidents of childhood. Yet, the man responsible for providing often life saving respiratory therapy treatments, to the children, ranging from infancy to early twenties, has in addition violated their personal boundaries and basic trust. He is a modern day Bogey Man.
As any respiratory therapist, Bleyle spent lengthy periods unsupervised with the patients under his care. He admits to abusing the children who were unable to speak or ask for help those either comatose or paralyzed, so he could not be discovered, and for the last ten years that theory seemed fail proof.
As a matter of fact Bleyle could still be working at the home, sexually abusing the very patients entrusted to his care if not for the fact that authorities traced pornagraphic images to his home computer. After issuing a search warrant, police discovered tens of thousands of pornographic pictures. Some of the images included the Respiratory Therapist himself, in very compromising sexual positions with at least four of the children from the Convalescent hospital, three girls and one boy.
Once again a cell phone camera is responsible for taking the pictures that Bleyle was sending on the internet. Cell phones with cameras are increasingly becoming a privacy invasion issue as they are more readily available on the market. The investigation was hindered in the fact testimony by most victims was nearly impossible due to their medical conditions. Sadly two of the victims have died since the investigation began.
In his ten years working at the convalescent home, a total of 176 patients passed through the 59 bed facility. In reality due to the fact Bleyle deliberately targeted debilitated patients (comatose, brain-damaged, severely disabled an unable to speak up) who were unable to speak out when being abused authorities cannot possibly know the extent of Bleyle’s abuse. Bleyle has agreed to a plea bargain that sentenced him to 45 years and 8 months in prison, a pretty good deal considering he faced 165 years on jail had he been convicted on all counts.
Finally, Bleyle’s indiscretions have prompted major changes at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. Effective immediately after Bleyle’s arrest Rady banned cell phones in any area patients receive treatments or procedures. The hospital also reevaluated their policy and procedure regarding patient’s privacy curtains and doors to patient’s rooms, requiring these to remain open unless a procedure is in progress.
As a RN I am angry that a fellow medical worker could violate our most trusted oath. I work with children in an adolescent psychiatric unit and deal with children abused sexually on a daily basis. Sexual abuse is something that haunts you night and day everyday the rest of your life. When one is abused by someone in a trusted position, whether a parent, family member, teacher, doctor, friend, you learn not to trust those closest to you.
If it happens at night you learn not to sleep when it is dark out. The darkness is oppressive and frightening as you wait for the sound of the abuser coming towards you. You become afraid of the dark, and may need to sleep with a light on, so you can see if anyone is around you in the night. Perhaps you do not sleep until the sun lights up the sky the next morning. Then finally you are able to momentarily let down your guard, and you fall asleep as the sun rises on a new day.
I am thankful Bleyle is no longer able to hurt any children and that one more monster is locked away. Parents believe your children when they tell you there are monsters in the world, or under their beds, because the bogey man does exist, and he may be closer than you realize.