‘An anomaly’: Livingston County man facing felonies leaves Strong Hospital

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – If you were near Strong Memorial Hospital on Saturday night, you probably noticed a lot of flashing lights and police cars.

That’s because police were searching for Patrick J. Steinmetz, a Livingston County man facing multiple felony charges, including sexual abuse of a minor.

It sounded like an inmate escaped at first, but Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said the reality is of the situation is far from that.

According to Dougherty, Steinmetz was essentially freed from the sheriff’s custody, temporarily, due to a medical emergency that landed him in the hospital. The sheriff’s office and court believed the emergency would require a weeks-long recovery.

But, to Dougherty’s surprise, the defendant was feeling well-enough to walk out of the hospital, one day after the decision to release him from custody.

Here’s the timeline.

On April 4, Steinmetz was arrested and charged with three counts of felony Criminal Sex Act in the Third Degree, felony Aggravated Patronizing a Minor for Prostitution in the Third Degree, felony Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child and felony Use of a Child in a Sexual Performance.

He was taken into custody with no bail.

On April 5, he had a medical emergency, requiring transportation to the hospital. For eight days, deputies maintained watch around the clock, utilizing members of the jail division.

The decision to release him from custody was made on April 12. Thinking the hospital-stay could be weeks-long, Dougherty said he made a decision to not have deputies keep monitoring Steinmetz.

He said the decision was made with taxpayers in mind, after he and a judge determined Steinmetz was not a threat to others while he was recuperating.

The very next day, April 13, Steinmetz improved much faster than anticipated. That’s when he walked out.

Hospital staff alerted Dougherty. Deputies would not answer if he was released from the hospital or if he left on his own.

Several police agencies teamed up to try and find him again in a Rochester home, hours later.

If this situation sounds confusing to you, it’s because it’s an anomaly. That’s the word Dougherty used to describe it, adding, it’s common for inmates to be released to the hospital. But no one knew Steinmetz would be able to walk out that soon.

Dougherty said it made no logical sense, given Steinmetz’s medical condition.

He’s back in custody at the hospital, indefinitely.

Dougherty said no rules were broken. No additional charges were brought forth.

“I know some people deemed it as an escape, it never was an escape,” said Dougherty. “He was not charged with an escape, he wasn’t in our custody so that charge wouldn’t fit. Did we have the option to do nothing? Sure, I mean he had been arrested, he had been arraigned and he had been released. But I think we always jump on things very agressively especially if you are talking about felony sex charges, where we don’t want him out wandering around.”

Eriketa Cost: So there was no miscommunication on Strong’s part?

Sheriff Tom Dougherty: Yeah, I mean I’m taking my accountability here, that’s all I can tell you. I don’t know what Strong’s policy’s are on those things, you’d have to talk to them about it, that’s not my window, my window is right here and I made the decision to ask for the release and I made the decision to go search for him when he walked out.

Strong Memorial Hospital declined to comment.