What happens when you leave a convicted sex offender in a hospital without monitoring him? It's a question people don't often think about, but it's an important one to ask.
Authorities in Brooklyn, N.Y., are asking that question and many more after Gregory Campfield, 52, allegedly molested a female patient in the Kings County Hospital emergency room, New York's WNBC-TV reports.
Campfield himself was a patient at the hospital.
He was allegedly caught groping a 27-year old woman's breasts as she slept in the emergency room waiting for treatment. The woman was in a partitioned area in the ER.
According to the New York Daily News, hospital staff alerted security guards and Campfield was detained.
Campfield was charged with a misdemeanor charge of forcible touching. In New York, forcible touching falls under a Class A Misdemeanor. Those convicted of the crime must register as a sex offender under New York law. Campfield could also face one year of jail time if convicted.
The charge of forcible touching occurs when a person forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person either for the purpose of degrading the other, or for sexual gratificaiton (see N.Y. Penal Code section 130.52).
While some long-term medical facilities require criminal background checks for certain prospective patients, a hospital emergency room can't exclude or limit people as easily. It's not that easy to preclude a person from medical care simply because they were convicted of, and served time for, a sex crime in the past.
It's also not the same thing as a sex offender living near a school, which is against state law in some places. But living somewhere and coming to a hospital waiting room for a few hours are two very different things.
Practically speaking, it's equally hard for an ER to screen patients and conduct background checks, since ERs are fast-paced and transient environments where people don't stay long.
But could there have been stronger security measures in place? That's a tough question and one that hospital officials will be asking.