Boise social worker loses license after being convicted of abusing Interfaith client

Abel Grimaldo
Abel Grimaldo

A former Interfaith Sanctuary social worker convicted in 2015 of abusing a client had only held his social work license for less than a year at the time of the 2014 abuse.

Abel Grimaldo lost that license Nov. 10 of this year after a hearing before Idaho’s Board of Social Work Examiners, according to documents from that hearing.

Grimaldo, 28, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of abusing a vulnerable adult on Sept. 9, 2015. He was initially indicted on one count of rape, accused of sexually assaulting an Interfaith Sanctuary client on Feb. 7, 2014. Grimaldo was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended, and two years supervised probation, which started in September 2015, according to court documents.

The victim, referred to as “V.C.” in the board hearing documents, was Grimaldo’s client through Interfaith.

According to the hearing documents, Grimaldo admitted that he picked up V.C. at her home in Eagle and drove her to a medical appointment. Afterwards, Grimaldo took her to an unoccupied home construction site. There, according to the hearing documents, Grimaldo pulled V.C. into the back seat of his car, took off her top and her bra and kissed and fondled her without her consent.

Grimaldo then drove V.C. back to her home. She reported the assault to her husband and went to the hospital for a rape examination.

V.C. accused Grimaldo of rape and remained consistent in her recounting of the events. Grimaldo, on the other hand, changed his story and admitted to initially lying to police, hearing officer David Wynkoop concluded. Grimaldo denied any kissing or fondling until he was presented with evidence of his saliva on V.C.’s body, Wynkoop wrote.

There was no forensic evidence that Grimaldo raped V.C., but Wynkoop theorized that could be explained by Grimaldo using a condom. Even if the situation did not escalate to rape, the hearing officer determined that Grimaldo’s admitted misconduct already was at a level that warranted his license being revoked — citing several board regulations on ethical and moral standards for social work.

“Mr. Grimaldo’s credibility is also undermined by his argument that his admitted conduct with Client V.C. was not sexual or romantic. It is hard to imagine how such conduct could reasonably be characterized as anything other than sexual or romantic,” Wynkoop wrote.

Grimaldo was the supportive services director for Interfaith and had worked at the shelter for four years when he was indicted in early 2015. He had also worked as an intern at the Boise State University counseling center, and served on the board of Terry Reilly Health Services.

Prosecutors previously told the Statesman that it took about a year to file charges because DNA evidence was involved, slowing the investigation.

Andrew Scoggin, chairman of Interfaith’s board, said the shelter “takes the safety of our guests, staff and volunteers very seriously. We conduct background checks, have policies in place to protect shelter guests and volunteers, and work hard to create an atmosphere of safety and support. If we become aware of allegations ... we remove the person from the shelter premises until a proper investigation is completed after which we take appropriate action.”

That, he said, is the policy that was followed in Grimaldo’s case.

The shelter revisits its policies “on a regular basis” to make sure they are appropriate, Scoggin said.

Erin Fenner: 208-377-6207, @erinfenner

Audrey Dutton contributed to this report.