Suspect in rape undergoes competency evaluation

A man living in an Oak Harbor assisted living facility accused of sexually assaulting a resident suffering from dementia was recently sent to Western State Hospital for competency restoration.

A judge in Island County Superior Court ordered Dec. 23 that 45-year-old Robert F. Santacruz undergo an evaluation to determine whether he has the capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings against him and to assist in his own defense.

The order was based on his history of mental health disorders, his lack of comprehension of the judicial process and his rambling and disjointed language, court documents state.

Prosecutors charged Santacruz in Island County Superior Court Dec. 12 with attempted rape in the second degree.

A psychologist with the state Office of Forensic Mental Health Services evaluated Santacruz and concluded that he likely suffers from schizophrenia.

The psychologist’s report describes his lifelong struggle with mental illness, though he had obvious difficulty speaking coherently to the evaluator.

She reported he was polite and cooperative during the interview, but his responses rarely made sense.

When asked about his work history, for example, Santacruz said, “Magical vapor things suck up oxygen. Great Republican party. Bill Clinton.” When asked about possible head injuries, he explained, “I had a spinal tap on the re-goosh, a few grays hairs in my life.”

The report states that Santacruz was on nine different psychiatric medications at the assisted living facility, plus other, non-psychiatric medicine.

The psychologist concluded that Santacruz is not competent to stand trial because he neither understood the charges against him nor was able to communicate in a coherent manner to his attorney or anyone else.

On Jan. 21, a judge signed an order to send Santacruz to a state facility for competency restoration, which is mental health treatment to bring Santacruz to a mental state where he can stand trial.

If restoration is unsuccessful after the first 90-day period, he could be sent back for a second restoration attempt.

The psychologist also concluded that Santacruz should be evaluated for possible civil commitment prior to release, if that occurs. His acute psychiatric symptoms appear to affect his ability to live independently.

Court documents describe how Santacruz’s mother has struggled to find a facility that would take him since she is unable to care for him and he can’t live alone.

He was living at Welcome Home Memory Care Center when he was investigated for alleged sexual assault. Staff members reported to police in December that a 79-year-old dementia patient, who was in a wheelchair, was found in Santacruz’s room with her pants and underwear pulled down and inside out; the woman was unable to change her own clothes, according to a police report on the case.

The report described a similar incident in September, also involving a dementia patient, as well as two other instances of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Investigators sent DNA samples to the state crime lab for testing.

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