Former nursing home nurse pleads guilty to multiple sexual assaults

A former caregiver pleaded guilty this week to sexually assaulting two women at San Diego-area nursing homes.

Matthew Fluckiger’s plea comes a month before the 37-year-old is due tried again on charges of attacking the women while in his custody in 2019. The plea deal calls for Fluckiger to serve 25 years to life in prison.

“It saves victims from having to relive the trauma of a second trial,” said San Diego County Assistant District Attorney Joshua Brisbane.

A jury sentenced former certified practical nurse Fluckiger in March of sexually assaulting a woman at Parkway Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation in La Mesa in January 2020.

But jurors stayed charges involving two other women. One lived at the Avocado Post Acute nursing home and the other at the San Diego Post-Acute Center, both in El Cajon. Eleven jurors voted to convict Fluckiger, one to acquit him.

Scott Fikes, an attorney representing the victim of Avocado Post Acute, said he hopes Fluckiger’s admission of guilt will help his victims heal.

“They now have the option to close,” Fikes said.

The case against Fluckiger has cast doubt on how nursing homes and their regulators at the California Department of Public Health manipulate charges of sexual assault.

Fluckiger was first charged with sexual misconduct in 2017, when Parkside Health & Wellness Center employees told state investigators he offered to supply a resident with cigarettes in exchange for sex.

The CDPH took no action against Fluckiger, which allowed him to continue working with vulnerable women in nursing homes. In 2019, Avocado’s victim accused Fluckiger of sexually assaulting her during a diaper change, according to CDPH records reviewed by KPBS.

The woman said she immediately reported the attack to several Avocado caregivers and administrators. But the administration of the establishment maintained that the woman had only reported “rough handling” and had waited eight days before alerting the police, according to the records.

Ultimately, state regulators believed Avocado’s administrators were above the victim and called the incident “rough manipulation.”

The CDPH allowed Fluckiger to retain his certified nursing assistant license even though investigators told him they doubted his innocence, records show. He then worked in at least two other retirement homes, where he sexually raped two other women.

It wasn’t until December 2020, after KPBS reported the case of one of Fluckiger’s accusers, that the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office charged him in three cases.

Avocado did not respond to a request for comment on Fluckiger’s guilty plea. CDPH said it would not be able to meet KPBS’s deadline.

The CDPH ultimately fined Avocado $2,000 for failing to report the sexual assault charges against Fluckiger to authorities in a timely manner, records show. The agency also fined Parkway Hills $16,000, where Fluckiger attacked a third woman. The facility was cited for failing to monitor inappropriate staff behavior and failing to vet job applicants for past abuse, records show.

Fikes, who is suing nursing homes on behalf of people reporting abuse, said the sad reality is that little has changed to prevent sexual assaults in nursing homes since the charges against Fluckiger surfaced.

“It had no effect overall,” Fikes said. “And it’s unclear what happens to state administrators and investigators who haven’t done their job.”

Comments are closed.