A former Penn Medicine nurse pleaded guilty Friday to secretly recording several undressed female patients, including a 17-year-old, at the Bucks County dermatology office where he worked.
James Close, 45, of Abington, entered the plea before Bucks County Court of Common Pleas Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr., who deferred Close’s sentencing for at least 90 days as he awaits a sex-offender evaluation.
“I think it is a step toward closure,” Robert J. Mongeluzzi, a lawyer for three of the victims, said Friday. “Obviously, there was a system failure in how an institution could have put a male nurse in a situation with females unsupervised.”
Close was charged in February with recording the nude teenager at Penn Medicine Dermatology in Yardley. Then police took a look at Close’s iPhone and found 18 videos of seven other female patients between the ages of 20 and 70. Police said those videos appeared to have been recorded between Jan. 18 and Feb. 13, the day Close was arrested.
Close’s attorney, Ellis B. Klein, said his client admitted guilt from the start and had been upfront with police since his arrest.
“He has been nothing but remorseful since day one,” Klein said. “He never intended to put these victims through a trial.”
In court Friday, Close appeared to be ashamed, as he has throughout the case, Klein said.
Mongeluzzi – who represents the 17-year-old, a woman in her 50s, and another in her 60s – said the teenager attended Friday’s proceedings at the Doylestown courthouse with her parents, but it was not easy.
“It is difficult to face and see the person who shattered that trust” in medical professionals, Mongeluzzi said. “That was demolished when [Close] invaded her privacy.”
On Feb. 13, Lower Makefield police responded to the dermatology office at 1000 Floral Vale Blvd. The teenager had discovered Close’s phone on the floor by her feet while she was being treated for a skin condition in a private light-therapy booth. On the screen, she could see a reflection of her nude body. The phone appeared to have been recording for about 25 seconds.
It was later discovered that Close had surreptitiously videoed the girl during four separate visits.
Close was arraigned in March on 48 counts, including sexual abuse of children, endangering the welfare of a child, and invasion of privacy.
“These victims were horrified and embarrassed,” Lower Makefield Police Chief Ken Coluzzi said at the arraignment. “Our officers are very upset and disturbed for them. The thought that anyone would take advantage of someone seeking medical attention – frankly, it’s disgusting.”
Close, a licensed practical nurse and father of two children, is being held at the Bucks County Correctional Facility. He is no longer employed by Penn Medicine.
By: Erin McCarthy, Philly.com