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Suit against hospital dismissed



Published: Wed, February 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The counselor was convicted of sex-related charges and sentenced to prison in 1999.

SALEM -- A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged Salem Community Hospital was negligent in its hiring and supervision of a mental-health counselor who was later convicted of improper relationships with two boys.

Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court ruled recently on a $25,000 lawsuit filed in December 2000 by two families, one from Salineville, the other from Lisbon.

In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Pike determined that the hospital was not responsible for acts the lawsuit says were committed by counselor Tim Wagner because they occurred years after he left the hospital's employment.

Wagner worked at the hospital from August 1987 until January 1992.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Vincent Gurrera of Weirton, W.Va., has alleged that Wagner began counseling one of the boys around 1990 while Wagner was still employed by the hospital.

The boy continued seeing Wagner after Wagner left the hospital.

Boys molested: In 1995 Wagner invited the boy, then in his mid-teens, to his house in Youngstown. Wagner also encouraged the boy to bring a male friend, also in his mid-teens.

It was during these visits in 1995 that the molestation occurred, a court document states.

Wagner's acts "had no relationship to his former employment of treating patients at Salem Community Hospital," the judge determined.

Judge Pike also determined that the plaintiffs failed to support their argument that the law required the hospital to perform a more complete background investigation of Wagner before he was hired.

Sentenced: Wagner was sentenced in 1999 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to 18 months in prison for two counts of sexual battery in connection with the actions alleged in the lawsuit.

The families that sued Salem Community Hospital already have won a $257,000 civil judgment against Wagner through U.S. District Court in Youngstown.




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