A 23-year-old nurse who began a relationship with a patient in a drug rehabilitation program was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.
Jordan Donalson of Clarence Center admitted to two counts of forcible touching for encounters that occurred while the 26-year-old woman was in the rehab program at Erie County Medical Center.
The two continued to see one another after the woman was released, said Andrew LoTempio, Donalson’s attorney. In fact, LoTempio said, it was the woman who initiated the dating.
“It was consensual, they had a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship,” LoTempio said. “I don’t think this was a predatory offense. It was simply a relationship he should have avoided.”
The charges were brought against Donalson because it is against the law for employees to have sexual contact of any kind with a patient who is at a facility licensed or certified by the state Office of Substance Abuse Services.
LoTempio said Donalson preferred a jail sentence rather than the mandatory term of six years on probation, if he was placed on probation. He asked the judge to consider a term of eight months.
“Probation in this case would treat him like a child molester,” LoTempio said, which meant Donalson would not be allowed to attend family parties, own a computer, have a cellphone or visit friends with children. “Quite frankly, judge, it’s ridiculous to me.”
State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns shared that view, at least in part.
“I’ve read everything on this case, and I think it is a colossal lack of judgment rather than targeting an individual who was weak because of their presence in a facility,” Burns said.
Burns agreed not to impose the probation and ordered the year-long term instead. Donalson, a licensed practical nurse, also agreed not to apply for work again at any state-run care facilities.
Story topics: State Supreme Court