MILWAUKEE — A registered sex offender forbidden from visiting his severely ill 9-year-old son filed a lawsuit Friday against Wisconsin Children's Hospital, arguing its visitation policy is "cruel and causes unnecessary harm to families and innocent children."
Security guards escorted Stuart Yates from the building Tuesday, five days after his son was hospitalized with a blood infection caused by e-coli, according to the lawsuit filed in Milwaukee County. Yates' son has had several serious medical conditions since birth, requiring surgical transplants of his pancreas, liver and bowels, the lawsuit said.
It wasn't immediately clear how long the hospital's policy of barring registered sex offenders from visiting patients has been in place, but Yates said his son was born there and there have been no problems in the past.
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Yates, 49, was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child in 1998 and was sentenced to six months' time served under a deal with prosecutors. Yates said he didn't know the age of the victim in the case and that the incident happened at a house party where there were strippers.
"They're using my past record, 20 years ago, against me," he said. "I served my time for it. I've been transparent about it."
Hospital spokesman Andy Brodzeller said he's unable to comment on individual cases because of potential privacy violations. Speaking generally, he said "the hospital does have visitation policies in order to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and staff and those practices do allow us to take steps that would limit an individual's access to our hospital."
"He called me this morning and he was crying on the phone," Yates said, "telling me how much he needed me and how scared he was and where am I at? 'Dad where are you? How come you won't come? I miss you, I need you.'"
Brodzeller said the hospital can evaluate cases for exceptions to their visitation policy if someone shares their concerns with staff or security. But Yates' attorney, Adele Nicholas, said that hasn't been relayed to them. According to the lawsuit, exceptions are only made if a patient is near death.
Nicholas said she has not heard of another hospital having a policy like Children's Hospital and the lawsuit contends that the facility is breaking state law.
"The law is quite clear that the patient has a right to designate the people they want to visit with while they're in the hospital and the hospital is not supposed to interfere with that visitation," she said.