A Bibb County jury has acquitted a former Medical Center of Central Georgia nurse accused of sexually assaulting a patient in 2009.
Jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon before returning their verdict, according to the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office.
James Melvin Purvis, 57, of Milledgeville, was accused of fondling and kissing a then-33-year-old woman who was in the hospital recovering from a car accident on March 30, 2009. His trial started Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.
Carl Cansino, Purvis’ lawyer, told jurors in his closing argument that although Purvis did violate hospital rules and his family’s trust, he did not touch the woman’s breast while giving her a shoulder massage.
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“Close to the breast area isn’t a violation of the law,” he said.
The woman testified Monday that she was immobilized with a broken leg in a cast and a broken neck in a brace when Purvis came into her hospital room. He previously had been her nurse, but he wasn’t assigned to her on the day of the alleged assault.
The Telegraph is withholding the woman’s identity because she is an alleged victim of a sexual assault.
She said Purvis held her hand while they talked about his recent birthday and her care while he’d been off work. At one point he began rubbing her shoulder.
“Then he started rubbing down toward my breasts,” she testified.
She said she told Purvis to stop and he complied.
Purvis has admitted that he kissed the woman on the lips after the massage, Cansino said.
Prosecutor Pamela White-Colbert said Purvis had no reason to be near the woman’s breast area.
“We hold nurses to a higher standard,” she said during her closing argument. “This is unethical, unprofessional and criminal behavior.”
Cansino said Purvis was a registered nurse for 29 years before the incident and worked nine years at the Medical Center with no prior trouble with the law.
He was fired following the incident, Cansino said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.