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Man Arrested, Charged with Sexually Assaulting 11-year-old Girl in U. Hospital Waiting Room

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A man is in jail tonight, formally charged today with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in a family waiting room at the University of Utah Hospital, late last month.

The hospital states that’s unacceptable, and it is reviewing its policies to make sure nothing like this happens again.

“We don’t have a lot of these crimes of opportunity on our campus,” said Chief Dale Brophy of the University of Utah Police Department.

Armando Tobias Lopez, 23. (Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

But, on July 28th, a man walked into a family waiting room in the hospital, sat down next to an 11-year-old girl who was coloring, and touched her inappropriately. That man turned out to be 23-year-old Armando Tobias Lopez.

“She got up and ran out of the room, told somebody,” said Chief Brophy.

Charging documents state the girl “pushed Lopez away and went to tell her mother.” The police chief said the father told security, and Lopez was caught.

In the court papers: “Lopez admitted to touching (the victim) twice..”  He’s charged with sexual abuse of a child, a second degree felony.

“The individual claimed he was up there to be with his uncle who was either getting a procedure or getting evaluated for a procedure,” said the police chief. “We haven’t been able to verify that.”

How does an assault like that happen in a hospital waiting room?

“We like to put our trust in people,” said Chief Brophy. “Bad people walk amongst us, and bad things happen.”

The University of Utah Hospital is an open building with people visiting for many reasons. There is a police officer and a security team in the building around the clock.

In response to our request, Kathy Wilets, U of U Health, Director of Media Relations issued this statement:

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and visitors. We are deeply concerned this incident took place and our executive leaders have been in touch with the family to offer support. We consider this type of incident to be unacceptable. We constantly review our policies related to hospital guests and visitors and this has prompted us to conduct a focused review of our visitor policy to see if any procedures can be strengthened or improved so this type of event doesn’t happen again.”

The police chief said the hospital and his department are always working together to improve security.

“We’ve already been looking at different measures prior to this event on how we improve,” said Chief Brophy. “It’s just all about timing, all about financing, and we’re moving forward with a security plan to make everything as safe as we possibly can.”

When asked if there was good security at the hospital today, the chief said, “I would say absolutely.”

 

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