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Nurse claims sex assault while working at WakeMed

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John Anthony Burks, 53 (image courtesy CCBI) (WTVD)

UPDATE: An attorney representing John Burks says the case against him was dismissed May 19, 2016 for lack of evidence

Original story:

The woman listed in a police report as the victim in a February 29 sexual assault at WakeMed sat down with ABC11 to detail what she describes as a traumatic experience. Because of the nature of the alleged assault, we are not identifying her.

She says on that day she was approached by a fellow employee she'd never spoken to before, 53-year-old John Burks. She says Burks, a "patient sitter" at WakeMed, relieved her while she was on her lunch break.

It was when she returned from that break that he struck up a conversation inside her patient's room. She said it began innocently enough, but warning bells started going off when he told her he'd noticed her and had been watching her. Then, she says he cornered her, all in front of her patient.

"He tried to kiss me, and I turned my head. And once I turned my head he started kissing me down my neck... (then) he started trying to take my hand and put it on his privates. And once I tried to pull back he got over to the side and took out his penis and try to get me to touch it... and started rubbing himself up against me," she describes.

She says she told him to stop and to leave, which he did, only to return minutes later with food in hand, offering her something to eat or drink, almost as if nothing had happened. She said she left work without reporting it, mainly because she was in shock, and because it brought up some painful past memories.

"It took me to another place, because at the age of six I was molested," she shares, struggling to get the words out.

But, the patient who'd been in the room that day did say something, and when WakeMed launched an investigation she confirmed those details to them. WakeMed immediately reported the incident to police. But, while they looked into the alleged assault, the victim says she was told she'd be unable to return to work, which is standard procedure during an investigation.

"I couldn't wait for the investigation to be over. I have kids, I have bills, I have a daughter in college," she explained.

So, while she looked for something else to help bridge the gap, she contacted her temp agency who confirmed it was up to WakeMed on when they'd reinstate her. Then, she claims she continued to call WakeMed but her calls went unanswered.

Finally, this week she was notified by police that they'd arrested Burks. However, she says that same investigator told her he'd heard from WakeMed that she's been terminated. And that's when she contacted her attorney, Morris McAdoo.

"She'd spoken with various employees, investigators, and it just got to the point where it seemed as if no one would either take responsibility for or address her concerns. In turn, it seemed as if she was penalized for being a victim," he explains.

When asked about the termination of the victim, WakeMed said they couldn't directly comment on that, and that if she had been let go, that would have been done on the part of the temp agency she was working for since she was not directly employed by them.

And while he is looking into whether she was wrongfully let go, he's also following up on claims from other women who've since come forward and contacted her, saying they, too, had been assaulted by Burks. The victim says one woman even told her WakeMed knew about it, although the hospital has yet to confirm that. Still, the mere possibility is only adding to the victim's anger.

"I'm angry at him for putting me in this situation I didn't ask to be in, and I'm angry at WakeMed because they knew about it, they knew he had done this before," she shares.

WakeMed, meanwhile, has confirmed that Burks was fired, releasing this statement: "This employee's behavior is not representative of WakeMed and certainly does not reflect the values we work hard to instill in our staff."

McAdoo says he has filed a complaint on the victim's behalf with the EEOC, and says they're considering filing civil suits pending an investigation into whether WakeMed was aware of past accusations against Burks and failed to properly protect their employees. Burks is due in court on criminal charges April 12.

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