REDWOOD CITY -- A man charged with raping a fellow psychiatric patient at San Mateo Medical Center will again be sent back to a state mental hospital because he's not mentally competent for trial, the attorneys said Thursday.

Based on a doctor's report, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Joseph Scott on Wednesday ruled that Ronald O'Brien, 30, still isn't well enough to stand trial and should return to Atascadero State Hospital.

It will be the third time in as many years O'Brien has been sent to a state mental hospital, said defense attorney Paul DeMeester. This ruling and the previous ones mean the case is on hold until he's deemed mentally competent.

O'Brien is charged with walking into a 23-year-old woman's room in the middle of the night at the San Mateo County-run hospital and climbing on top of her. She allegedly tried to fight him off, but he overpowered and raped her, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. She reported the crime in the morning, and O'Brien was arrested.

The attack sparked an investigation at the medical center. The county refused to say what problems the inquiry uncovered, but instead said what they'd do to prevent future rapes. Those steps included evaluating whether employees failed to stop the assault, though the county never released what the evaluation concluded.


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A judge first ordered O'Brien committed in 2010, but doctors at the hospital later concluded he was competent and sent him back to Redwood City. That same process was repeated in 2011. Doctors again deemed him competent in March of this year.

"His mental condition is so severe, so grave he will most likely have to be monitored for life," DeMeester said.

O'Brien is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail while he awaits return to the hospital.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.