Conn. paramedic accused of raping woman in ambulance en route to hospital

This Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 photo released by the Hamden, Conn., police department shows Mark Powell, of North Haven, Conn., a paramedic arrested on charges he sexually assaulted a woman in the back of an ambulance.
AP Photo/Hamden Police Department
Mark Powell
AP Photo/Hamden Police Department

(CBS/AP) HAMDEN, Conn. - Police in Connecticut say a paramedic raped a woman as she lay unconscious and strapped to a stretcher in the back of an ambulance on the way to a hospital.

The 22-year-old woman, who had fallen and suffered a concussion at a holiday party, says she woke up to find the man assaulting her inside the ambulance on Dec. 25, according to Hamden police. She said she was unable to move because she was strapped down.

Mark Powell, 49, of North Haven, surrendered to authorities Thursday to face charges of first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint and was released on $25,000 bond.

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said the allegations represent "outrageous and horrifying conduct" by an emergency medical professional.

"Our society places the greatest level of trust and confidence in its public safety providers, and the circumstances in this case reflect a tremendous breach of that faith. The victim in this incident demonstrated enormous strength and courage in bringing this complaint forward," he said.

Police responded to the report of the woman's fall around 3 a.m., and she was treated at the scene. She was allegedly assaulted while en route to Yale-New Haven Hospital and contacted police after she was released.

Police say Powell was the only person in the American Medical Response ambulance aside from a driver and the victim. Investigators are still conducting interviews and waiting for lab results, but charges are not expected to be filed against anybody else.

AMR spokeswoman Deborah Hileman said it is a national standard to have only one person in the back of the ambulance during the transport of a patient.

The company said Powell has been placed on administrative leave.