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A former nursing assistant at a state mental health hospital was charged Thursday with second-degree sexual assault for an alleged relationship with a patient.

Elesia A. Talley, 27, of Madison, became involved in a relationship with a 44-year-old patient at the Mendota Mental Health Institute, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The man was at Mendota under a court order pertaining to a criminal case against him.

The relationship is alleged to have lasted from October 2009 until April, when concerns about Talley's conduct with the man were raised. Staff had earlier expressed concern that Talley was spending too much time with the man and ignoring her duties.

State law prohibits caregivers from having sexual contact with patients at state treatment facilities.

Seth Boffeli, spokesman for the state Department of Health Services, which operates Mendota, said Talley was fired after staff became aware of the activity between Talley and the patient and investigated it internally. The matter was referred to police after the internal investigation, Boffeli said.

According to the complaint:

The man, who was only identified in the complaint by his initials, told police that he and Talley sneaked contact with one another and began having sex in November 2009. He also told police that she bought him pre-paid phone calling cards, a prepaid cell phone, pornography DVDs and other items.

The items were discovered in his room in April after staff members raised "boundary concerns" about Talley and the man.

Talley told police she had been working at Mendota since 2007 and had received a lot of training about inappropriate contact with patients. She admitted buying items for the man after he came to Mendota in late summer of 2009 and that they had sex several times.

Talley is free on a signature bond after appearing in court on Thursday.

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