Ambulance company sued over paramedic's alleged assault of elderly San Mateo County patients

Ambulance company American Medical Response West is facing a second civil lawsuit alleging it enabled a paramedic to sexually assault two elderly women in ambulances on their way to hospitals in San Mateo County.

"They had a sexual predator that they were allowing to be in the back of an ambulance with elderly, vulnerable women," said lead attorney Anne Marie Murphy with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. "This is an absolute horrific situation."

Miguel Ontiveros, 35, of Redwood City was criminally charged in April and is awaiting trial in the San Mateo County Jail.

Ontiveros is also facing two civil suits, including one filed Thursday that accuses him of sexually assaulting an 80-year-old Pacifica woman after she had a possible strike in May 2022.

The lawsuit says an unnamed woman was strapped to a gurney inside an AMR ambulance and rushed to Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame when the sexual assault occurred.

"When Jane Doe got to Mills-Peninsula, she was very vocal that the paramedic had tried to put his penis in her mouth and that she wanted to the paramedic to be arrested," Murphy said.

Murphy said the woman's claims were not initially believed and there was no DNA evidence available to test. But when a second woman, also in her 80s, came forward with similar claims in December, investigators said they gathered Ontiveros' semen from the woman's body.

"In all my decades of working as a prosecutor, I haven’t seen anything that even comes close to something like this," San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Before working for AMR, court documents show Ontiveros was fired from South San Francisco Fire Department for submitting fraudulent timecards resulting in payment of $15,000 for hours he didn’t work. He faces grand theft charges in that case.

"We had already charged him for felony cases for that and then this came to light," Wagstaffe said. "Far more serious."

If convicted of the sexual assault charges on two patients, Ontiveros faces life in prison.

But Murphy said the real neglect lies with AMR.

"Somebody wasn’t doing their job," she said. "The company wasn’t doing their job. We believe the facts are going to show either they didn’t do a background check or they didn’t do a proper background check."

The latest civil suit says AMR didn’t take initial action, put profits ahead of safety and allowed a predator to prey on the elderly.

The daughter of the alleged victim, who didn't want to be named for privacy reasons, said her mother has been severely traumatized by what authorities say happened to her.

"It’s devastating," she said. "It plummeted [my mother] into a depression and just really changed her."

She added that she doesn't want other women to feel the pain her mother felt, and she hopes the suspect is ashamed of himself.

Civil attorneys say they do believe there are more victims who have not yet come forward.

"There’s no amount of money that can fix what happened," Murphy said. "We’re seeking to hold AMR accountable for its lack of supervision, its lack of hiring procedures."

AMR released a statement late Friday that said, "American Medical Response (AMR) does not comment on ongoing or pending litigation. The employee in question was terminated immediately upon his arrest. AMR is cooperating with law enforcement and the prosecutor."

Ontiveros’ attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU