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UPDATE: Johnson City nurse charged with disclosing child rape details, destroying evidence

Becky Campbell • Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 5:49 PM

A highly respected sexual assault nurse who has testified in dozens of child and adult sexual assault cases throughout the Tri-Cities was arrested Thursday, accused of disclosing case information to a suspect’s relative in a child sex abuse case and destroying evidence, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Tessa Proffitt, 41, a Mountain States Health Alliance certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners nurse — a registered nurse who specializes in sexual assault examinations — came under investigation in July after Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus requested the TBI investigate allegations.

“In July 2017, at the request of 2nd District Attorney General Barry Staubus, TBI Special Agents began investigating allegations involving the release of confidential information associated with a child sex abuse case that began in January of last year,” said TBI spokesman Leslie Earhart.

The original child sex abuse case was being investigated by the Elizabethton Police Department. The child, who was reportedly raped, was medically examined by Proffitt. When EPD investigators suspected confidential information had been shared, they went to District Attorney General Tony Clark, according to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney William Harper.

Because Clark’s office routinely uses Proffitt in sexual assault investigations, he recused himself from the case. That’s when Staubus’ office was appointed to handle it, and he asked the TBI get involved.

During the course of the TBI investigation, Earhart said agents determined Proffitt disclosed confidential information to a relative of the suspect in the initial rape investigation.

The relative, Alicia May, 53, was also charged.

According to Earhart, further investigation revealed that both Proffitt and May concealed and destroyed evidence related to the rape investigation.

Last week, a Washington County grand jury returned indictments charging both women with six counts of unlawful disclosure of confidential sex abuse information, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of criminal conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Proffitt and May were arrested Wednesday and booked into the Washington County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond each. Both were released on bond. Reporting for last week’s grand jury is April 6.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, a MSHA spokeswoman said Proffitt had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation and hospital officials were “actively cooperating with law enforcement as appropriate.” Proffitt worked on call as a sexual assault nurse examiner to conduct examinations as needed. Such nurses are trained in the medical, psychological and forensic examination of a sexual assault victim.

Proffitt obtained her examiner certification in 2006, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses. She is certified in both adult and pediatric examinations and is one of seven sexual assault nurse examiner nurses in MSHA system.

No other details about May were available, and no information about the original child rape charge was released.

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Reported earlier:

A Mountain States Health Alliance nurse who specializes in in sexual assault examinations was arrested Wednesday alongside a second woman following accusations they disclosed confidential information in a child sex abuse case.

Tessa Profitt, 41, a registered nurse, is charged with six counts of unlawful disclosure of confidential sex abuse information, two counts of tampering with evidence, and one count of criminal conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported in news release that in July, agents began investigating allegations involving the release of confidential information associated with a child sex abuse case that began in January 2017. The Elizabethton Police Department was investigating the reported rape of a young girl.

Agents determined that Proffitt had disclosed confidential information about the exam to Alicia May, 53, a relative of the suspect in the initial rape investigation. The TBI said both Proffitt and May also had concealed and destroyed evidence related to the rape investigation.

May faces the same charges as Proffitt. Both were indicted by a Washington County grand jury last week. Each was held in the Washington County Detention Center on $5,000 bond.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, a MSHA spokeswoman said Proffitt had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation and hospital officials were “actively cooperating with law enforcement as appropriate.” Proffitt worked on call as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner to conduct examinations as needed. Such nurses are trained in the medical, psychological and forensic examination of a sexual assault victim.

Although the child rape case took place in Elizabethton and the charges were filed in Washington County, both of which are in the 1st Judicial District, the TBI’s investigation resulted from 2nd District Attorney General Barry Staubus’ request.

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