Breaking News
More () »

Survivor says VA denied tort claim after she was sexually assaulted by nurse practitioner

In late 2021, former VA nurse practitioner William Luchtefeld pleaded guilty to three sex crimes including sexual assault and sodomy of two women.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — A woman who was sexually assaulted by a nurse practitioner at a VA outpatient clinic is speaking out against what she calls a broken system after her tort claim was denied.

For more than a decade, Dareka Irving served her country in the National Guard.

“I definitely enjoyed my time in the service,” said Dareka Irving.

An incident during a 2016 deployment in Germany effectively ended her military career.

“My hip popped and I immediately was in pain,” said Irving.

Irving said VA doctors didn’t want to do a hip replacement due to her age but instead recommended pain management at the Outpatient Clinic on Parker Road.

“It was helping,” said Irving. “It wasn’t taking all of the pain away because it was a bone that was separated and broken.”

On Nov. 21, 2019, Irving’s view of her treatment changed forever when she was sexually assaulted by nurse practitioner William Luchtefeld.

“I thought if I screamed somebody would have to get me before he snapped my neck or killed me,” said Irving.

In late 2021, Luchtefeld pleaded guilty to three sex crimes including sexual assault and sodomy.

“He told the court and admitted what he did,” said Irving. “He did it because he felt like he had the power to do it because of who he was and who I was. It happened right there on VA property in the VA facility.”

As Luchtefeld’s trial played out, St. Louis VA Director Keith Repko sent Irivng a handwritten note apologizing for the incident while pledging to get her the services she needed.

“They promised me and my family a bunch of things,” said Irving.

However, Irving said those proved to be empty promises as the VA denied her claim related to the assault stating that “their review concluded there was no negligent or wrongful act on the part of a VA employee”.

“I left my family to serve the country with you all and that’s how I was repaid,” said Irving. “You’re told if something happens to tell, speak up, and it will be taken care of. That didn’t happen.”

A spokesperson for the St. Louis VA Health Care provided 5 On Your Side with this statement: “VA condemns all behaviors of this nature and holds employees accountable when they fail to uphold the high standards Veterans expect and deserve. We are unable to share further details in matters of this nature without a privacy release or if litigation is pending.”

Irving told 5 On Your Side that she chose to share her story because like many sexual assault survivors, she attempted suicide after this incident.

For a full list of mental health resources click here.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can call the Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 988. Call centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Before You Leave, Check This Out