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‘Worst case’ of child molestation goes to court

A respiratory therapist affiliated with a children’s hospital confessed to “countless” molestations of young disabled patients, a prosecutor said at the man's arraignment Friday.
Wayne Bleyle is escorted into court in San Diego on Friday. Bleyle is accused of molesting child patients who generally cannot feed or bathe themselves.Denis Poroy / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A therapist at a children’s hospital pleaded not guilty Friday to molesting two patients and posting child pornography on the Internet.

Wayne Bleyle, 54, was arrested Wednesday after authorities seized computers and a hard drive at his home and found possibly more than 100,000 images of child porn, a prosecutor said.

Some of the pornography was made in a hospital setting, police Capt. Guy Swanger said. Authorities searched his home on a tip.

Bleyle, a 25-year employee of Children’s Hospital and Health Center, worked at its long-term convalescent facility for 10 years as a respiratory therapist and had contact with patients requiring constant attention, said hospital spokesman Tom Hanscom. Patients there generally cannot feed, bathe or dress themselves.

“The fact that these are among the most fragile of our fragile patients makes this person’s acts particularly horrifying,” Hanscom said.

During Bleyle’s time at the convalescent facility, 176 patients were treated, Hanscom said — the maximum number Bleyle would have had access to.

Investigators want medical records of nine current and former patients but may seek more, he said. Three patients have so far been linked to the photos.

Accused of abusing two children
Bleyle pleaded not guilty to two counts of molestation and 24 counts of child pornography involving children under his care. The complaint identified two molestation victims, both girls under age 14, but authorities said there may be more.

Authorities may never know how many children might have been molested, prosecutor Laura Gunn told reporters.

The judge set bail at $5 million, though prosecutors had sought only $3 million.

Gunn told the judge Friday that in a phone interview, Bleyle had confessed to molesting “countless” disabled patients.

“One of the agents who interviewed him said, ’How many kids are we talking about?”’ Gunn said. “The defendant, who was in New York at the time looking out at the snow, looked out at the snow and said, ’How many snowflakes are there out there?”’

Bleyle “averaged about two kids a week, and he specifically chose children who were the most brain-damaged, most comatose, most nonverbal — children who could never say anything about it,” she said.

Bleyle was the only person seen molesting the children in the photos, which showed both boys and girls, Gunn said.

Bleyle flew to San Diego voluntarily Monday night, Gunn said.

Had been kicked out of house
Public defender John Stathis limited his comments at Friday’s arraignment to procedural matters. Bleyle had not been assigned an attorney yet, the public defender’s office said.

A phone message left at Bleyle’s home Thursday had not been returned Friday.

Bleyle’s wife has kicked him out of their house in the suburb of Santee, and he was living in a trailer in east San Diego County when he was arrested in a casino parking lot, Gunn said.

Bleyle had no criminal record and was licensed by the state, which conducts background checks every two years as part of its license renewal process, Hanscom said.

Hospital officials have contacted the families of all 53 patients at the convalescent center and are contacting families of past patients, Hanscom said.