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Nursing assistant accused of elder rape in court Thursday

San Diego News Network
By City News Service
April 8, 2010

A former worker at an East County rehabilitation center will stand trial on charges that he raped an elderly, incoherent patient, a judge ruled Thursday following a short preliminary hearing.

Felix Sanidad Panem, 53, was arrested in December, after another employee of the El Dorado Care Center allegedly caught him having sex with the female patient. Panem, who worked at the facility for three years, is charged with rape of an incompetent person, elder abuse and burglary.

The victim is in her 70s. El Cajon police Officer David Vojtaskovic testified that he questioned Panem after his Dec. 26 arrest.

"He told me that he came in (to her room) and cleaned her up," Vojtaskovic said. "He changed her and had sexual intercourse with her." Panem also conceded that he had sex with the woman in May 2009 and November 2009, the officer said. He said he also found practice resignation letters written by the defendant, in which he apologized.

Vojtaskovic said he tried to speak with the victim but she kept asking him why he was there and who he was even though he was in uniform. The woman described Panem as a friend but didn't recall seeing him that day and denied having sex with him, the officer said.

The defendant, who remains in jail, was ordered by Judge John Thompson to return to court April 22 to receive a trial date. He faces nine years and eight months in prison if convicted, according to Deputy District Attorney Chantal De Mauregne.

This story was written and edited by City News Service.