A 52-year-old healthcare professional has today (Friday 3rd February) been found guilty of sexually assaulting five women while working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Hernando Puno of Onslow Road, Blackpool, was convicted at Preston Crown Court of eight counts of sexual assault against his victims.
The investigation into Puno’s offending began in March 2021 when he was arrested for an allegation of sexual assault against a colleague. This then led to other victims coming forward and reporting sexual assaults dating between 2014 and 2020. Puno and the victims were working as health care assistants at the hospital.
Puno was later charged with a series of sexual assaults. He pleaded not guilty but following a trial was convicted on eight counts. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston (pictured below), of Lancashire Police, said, ‘Hernando Puno is a predatory offender who targeted younger female healthcare assistants. Throughout the trial Puno sought to dismiss his behaviour as a ‘bit of fun’ and just a friendly gesture. But the jury heard how he did not extend his friendly gestures to his older colleagues, his male colleagues and certainly not towards his senior colleagues who he worked with at the hospital.
His behaviour was both shameless and demeaning. His actions had a significant effect on the victims, who suffered in silence for years before approaching police. Most of them removed themselves from the situation with several leaving the hospital. The five victims have showed tremendous bravery in coming forward, and throughout the subsequent investigation and trial.
A sexual assault is committed when a person intentionally touches another person sexually without their consent. Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to investigating offences of this nature, no matter how historic, and no matter what the role, position and status of the alleged offender.
We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of a sexual offence to come forward safe in the knowledge that they will be treated sensitively and professionally.’
Karen Tonge, Specialist Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said, ‘Hernando Puno’s actions have caused anger and distress. I am grateful to the women who have bravely shared their experiences, which has enabled Lancashire police and CPS North West to bring Puno to justice. heir actions in taking a stand against Puno’s behaviour will no doubt have prevented other women suffering the same abuse. Women have a right not be sexually harassed, especially at work. We are committed to bringing to justice those who commit sexual offences.’