Orestes Ybarra

Orestes Ybarra

Arizona Department of Corrections

A woman is suing an orthopedic rehabilitation center after she was sexually assaulted by an employee at one of its Tucson locations when she was 15 years old.

Orestes Ybarra is currently serving a 21-year-prison sentence in connection with the incident, after he was convicted in August of sexually assaulting the victim in 2015, according to Pima County Superior Court records.

Ybarra, 35, was previously incarcerated for solicitation of burglary and armed robbery. He is also a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed this month, says Ideal Physical Therapy is “vicariously liable” for Ybarra’s actions while he was an employee of its location at 1020 S. Harrison Road.

Ideal Physical Therapy was purchased by another company in 2016, and its name subsequently changed.

In May 2015, Ybarra was a lead clinical assistant at the center and responsible for scheduling appointments. He was being trained to work with patients and had keys to the center, the lawsuit says.

Prior to the May 30 incident, Ybarra previously assisted the victim — known as W.M. Doe in the lawsuit — in her physical therapy, but on the May 30 appointment, after instructing the victim on her exercises, Ybarra sexually molested and sodomized her, the lawsuit says.

On Nov. 20, a Pima County grand jury indicted Ybarra on two felony counts of sexual assault, one felony count of sexual abuse and one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure, court records show.

The case lasted in court for nearly two years before Ybarra was found guilty in August of two counts of sexual assault.

Ybarra is appealing his conviction.

The woman was physically injured as a result of the assault, and has required and will continue to require therapy, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims battery and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress by the company and Ybarra, as well as negligence in hiring and supervision by Ideal Physical Therapy.

The company had a duty to the victim “to use reasonable care to ensure her safety, care, health and well-being by hiring, retaining, assigning and supervising its staff” who worked in supervisory positions, such as Ybarra’s role as lead clinical assistant, the lawsuit says.

Ideal Physical Therapy “knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that... Ybarra was unfit, dangerous and a threat to the health, safety and welfare” of the victim, according to the lawsuit.

The company failed to run a background and reference check for Ybarra, who previously spent four years in prison for armed robbery, and failed to have a policy which prohibited clinical assistants from “meeting minors of the opposite sex without additional adult supervision,” the lawsuit says.

“Ideal Physical Therapy knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that by allowing Ybarra to have unfettered access to minors in the privacy of their clinic, and no supervision, minors were at grave risk for sexual assault,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit is asking for an unspecified amount of money for compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs of the lawsuit and any additional relief deemed reasonable by the court.

A representative of Ideal Physical Therapy did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at cschmidt@tucson.com or 573-4191.

Public safety reporter covering police, fire, courts, and sports-related legal issues.