MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time, a fired sexual assault examiner is speaking out about why she thinks she was really fired.
Nurse Kristi Jarvis lost her job as coordinator for the sexual assault program at Hennepin Healthcare last spring. Now, her firing could reopen criminal cases.
Jarvis worked at Hennepin Healthcare. The nurse conducted exams on patients who reported a sexual assault. For four years, she served as program coordinator for the Hennepin Assault Response Team.
“I have been very passionate about this field. I loved working as a forensic nurse and I put my heart and soul into it,” Jarvis said.
Her credentials came into question last May when Hennepin Healthcare discovered a grant application with Jarvis’ typed signature misrepresented her credentials. It said she had a BS in nursing when she actually has a BS in criminology and criminal justice.
“I would get piles of papers put in front of me and just told to sign and unfortunately, I hate to say it, but I did. But they all included my credentials after my signature which I’m saying I’ve never done,” Jarvis said.
Hennepin Healthcare fired her, telling WCCO, “The reason for termination was ‘failure to comply with Hennepin Healthcare System’s Code of Conduct.’”
“So what happened?” Mayerle asked.
“Well I honestly don’t know. I feel like I was very targeted,” Jarvis replied. “There was a lot of tension going on in that office, it was a very hostile work environment, there was personality clashes and quite honestly I think it was just an issue them not liking me.”
Wherever the truth lies, her termination calls her credibility into question. Part of the job involved testifying in court as an expert witness.
“Where they needed an expert witness to testify to help the jury better understand concept such as strangulation was one of the big ones domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking. I would review documents and records related to the case and then I would write up an expert opinion based on what I reviewed and sometimes I would testify and sometimes they would settle out of court,” Jarvis said.
She said she accurately represented her background to the court. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman agrees, but immediately severed ties with Jarvis.
“We felt we had to under the Brady Giglio Supreme Court requirements. It’s really set up frankly to ensure cops don’t lie,” Freeman said.
His office is looking at about 20 cases from the timeframe when the grant application was submitted through Jarvis’ firing. And says so far, no defense attorney have contacted his office with concern.
Freeman contends her testimony should stand.
“Every lawyer, defense lawyer got the right qualifications and she always testified to the same. And frankly she was fully qualified to testify about the things she did testify to and having a 4-year degree in nursing wouldn’t add to that,” Freeman said.
“My heart breaks that these cases are being reopened and relooked at. I felt like I put it all out there and I did what I could to help improve the sexual response in the state,” Jarvis said.
Hennepin Healthcare noted a written reprimand pertaining to her leadership style and a verbal warning for not following procedure for obtaining continuing education classes. But her personnel file also has several commendations.
“Are you ultimately responsible for your name that goes on a document?” Mayerle asked Jarvis.
“Yes I was. And that’s where I let myself down and the community down,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis has had new subpoenas for her to testify in cases outside of Hennepin County. At this point, she doesn’t know how those will be handled.
Her nursing license is active with no disciplinary action. She’s currently working in a different field.