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11 assault charges laid against fake nurse who worked at Vancouver hospital for a year

Brigitte Cleroux, the woman who impersonated a nurse for a year at B.C. Women’s Hospital, has been charged with a long list of new offences, including 11 counts of assault and assault with a weapon.

In all, 15 new charges were sworn in Vancouver Provincial Court on Wednesday, according to court records.

Cleroux, 50, is now accused of eight counts of assault with a weapon, three counts of assault, four counts of using a forged document, and one count each of fraud over $5,000 and personation with intent to gain advantage. The assault charges involve 10 individual women who were patients at the hospital.

Vancouver police spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said investigators have now spoken to more than 40 alleged victims from Cleroux’s time in the city.

“We’ve been working very closely with all of those victims to conduct investigations, and as you can imagine, these investigations are complicated — not just from the passage of time, but also because we’re dealing with very personal stories,” he told CBC.

Addison said several investigations are still underway, and more charges are possible.

Fraud and impersonation charges against Cleroux were first announced in Vancouver in November. 

She worked as a perioperative nurse at the hospital from June 2020 to June 2021, assisting with an untold number of surgeries. Several patients have told CBC she provided them with pain medication or sedation during their proceedings.

Spokespeople for the hospital’s operator, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), declined to comment Friday on the new charges against Cleroux. 

They pointed instead to a written statement from December that says the hospital has done a review to make sure there are no other imposters in the system and that this incident serves as “an unfortunate reminder that individuals with criminal intent exist in our world and can be motivated to bring harm to both people and organizations.”

Lawyer Scott Stanley, who represents a number of patients treated by Cleroux at B.C. Women’s Hospital, addressed the new charges in a written statement.

“When people have been fooled, there can be a temptation to think it was at the hand of a genius. Often, it is a failure to follow basic common sense procedures,” he said.

“These recent charges against Ms. Cleroux illustrate the need for institutions to have such procedures in place and to follow them.”

At least 67 adult convictions

This is far from the first time Cleroux has been accused of crimes related to impersonation.

She has a long criminal history across North America, with at least 67 convictions as an adult, including several for pretending to be a nurse or a teacher. She is still wanted on two active warrants in Florida and one in Colorado.

Cleroux is currently in prison after receiving a seven-year prison sentence for crimes including personation, assault with a weapon and assault related to her time posing as a nurse at a fertility clinic and a dental clinic in Ottawa for a few weeks in the summer of 2021.

A black-and-white photo shows a woman with short hair.
Brigitte Cleroux in an older photo shared by the College of Nurses of Ontario. (College of Nurses of Ontario)

Patients from B.C. Women’s Hospital have filed a proposed class action lawsuit accusing PHSA of negligence.

In a response to those allegations, the PHSA denied that administrators should have known Cleroux was a phoney — and said it took all reasonable steps to confirm she was a qualified nurse.

The PHSA response also reveals that Cleroux’s colleagues began complaining she was rude and disrespectful within weeks after she started at the hospital.

She was placed on administrative leave for a few weeks in the fall of 2020 while administrators investigated five separate incidents, including using force on a patient and saying she wanted to “punch or hit” a colleague in the face, according to the PHSA response.

That behaviour ultimately resulted in a one-day suspension, after which she was allowed to return to work, the health authority says.

During her leave from the hospital, it appears Cleroux found more nursing work in B.C. Management at Victoria’s private View Royal Surgical Clinic has confirmed she worked there for three weeks in November 2020.

Cleroux’s next appearance in Vancouver Provincial Court is scheduled for Sept. 22.

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