State

Man not guilty in Modesto sexual battery of 98-year-old

A Stanislaus County jury made quick work of acquitting a nursing assistant charged with the sexual battery of a 98-year-old female patient at a Modesto health care facility.

It took jurors less than two hours late Friday to find Marvin Ruiz, 33, not guilty. Ruiz fought the felony charge for more than 3½ years.

"I have full faith in our criminal justice system," prosecutor Elaine Casillas said Monday. "The jurors had reasonable doubt about one or more elements of the crime and I accept that. I also know that I would go to trial under the same set of facts and circumstances on any given day."

Ruiz's attorney, deputy Public Defender Nancy Smith, did not return a call seeking comment.

Modesto police arrested Ruiz on Sept. 20, 2006, at the Garden City Health Care Center on Granger Avenue after he returned to pick up his paycheck.

The arrest came nearly two days after a witness claimed to see Ruiz attacking the victim in her bathroom. The staffer testified she saw Ruiz fondling the victim's breasts as he stood behind her. The defense argued Ruiz's actions were not a sexual act: He had to help the woman stand and was checking her for bruises and rashes and helping her get ready for bed.

The day of Ruiz's arrest, police said officials at the care center waited 17 hours after the suspected incident to call police, which they said set back the investigation.

A Garden City administrator said center staff contacted police "immediately" but would not provide an exact time.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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