Longform

The Widow and the Nurse, Part Two

Page 4 of 8

"At this time," Cumbie continued, "the hospital has no record of treating Ms. Garcia for pregnancy or sexual assault and there is no witness or physical evidence to show a sexual battery occurred.... Ms. Garcia's doctor states that Ms. Garcia was not pregnant when she first examined her."

This statement is only partially accurate. At New Times' request, Bridget granted Dr. Lotspeich permission to discuss her patient's complete medical history. Contacted at Mount Sinai, where she is a third-year resident from the University of Miami's School of Medicine, Lotspeich was read the relevant paragraphs from the police report. "That's not what I said at all," she replied. "Bridget didn't speak to me until after the whole issue of the pregnancy had been resolved."

Scrolling through Bridget's medical records, which are stored on a computer, Lotspeich noted that Bridget, during a March 8 visit to the clinic, reported she had been raped. That was two weeks before she filed rape charges with the Aventura police. At that time Bridget told the attending physician, who was not Lotspeich, that she had already miscarried. She complained of severe depression, crying spells, and an inability to sleep. "She was treated for sexual assault," Lotspeich said, meaning she was referred by the attending physician to a case manager at the hospital and to the Rape Crisis Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Lotspeich next saw Bridget on March 16. "I've been seeing her for years. She's my patient," Lotspeich explained. "If she goes into the clinic on a day when I'm not there, she sees someone else. When I saw her that day, she was very apologetic. She thought I would be mad that she had told someone else [about the alleged rape] before she told me.

"She was still depressed, but she was sleeping better," Lotspeich added. "I ordered the pregnancy test primarily to check for sexually transmitted diseases. The test confirmed she wasn't pregnant, which was consistent with what Bridget was saying."

Lotspeich remained confused about the police report. "I can't pick it apart," she said. "I can only tell you what [Bridget] told me. The whole thing in the report stating she was not pregnant shortly after the time of the rape was not right. I only did a pregnancy test about four months after she was [allegedly] raped."



Although Lotspeich did tell Cumbie there is no proof on file at Mount Sinai that Bridget was ever pregnant, she also told New Times it's not unheard of for a woman to miscarry without hospitalization, even if she's more than 20 weeks pregnant, as Bridget claimed to be. And despite a lack of solid evidence, Lotspeich believes Bridget's behavior is consistent with that of a rape victim.

"She was my patient before all this happened," Lotspeich said. "She was always a very timid and introverted person. There was a real change in her after it all happened. Something happened to her, I think; something transpired that changed this person. She became much more tremulous in her speech. She was very -- I mean, she looked like someone who looked shaken up. She really looked like something bad had happened to her."Even after filing the rape charges, Bridget maintained a relationship with Regina. They talked regularly on the telephone. Sometimes she'd go over to Regina's condo to share a dinner of Bridget's favorite Chinese food. "We'd just talk," Bridget recalled. "We'd talk about everything. Anything. She likes the company, you know."

Michael Snyder tried to put a stop to the visits. "The petitioner wants the respondent to stay away from her and to leave her alone," he wrote to the court in requesting a restraining order that would prohibit Bridget from ever contacting Regina again. (Because he filed the request on behalf of Regina, she is the petitioner; Bridget is the respondent.) "The petitioner wants the respondent to stop going to her house to harass her and to stop calling her.... The petitioner wants the respondent to stop trying to contact her by any means. The petitioner states the respondent has been calling her and going to her house constantly in the past.... The petitioner is in fear of her safety and is seeking the protection and the intervention of the court."

Although the rape investigation was still open, Snyder subpoenaed Detective Cumbie to appear in court for a hearing on the restraining order. On April 18 Circuit Court Judge Raphael Steinhardt issued a permanent injunction protecting Regina from Bridget. (Cumbie ended up not testifying at the hearing.) If the nurse ever tries to contact Regina again, via telephone or in person, she faces the possibility of arrest.



KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Andrew Powell