Doctor Accused Of 94 Sexual Assaults In Utah
A judge has dismissed a case filed by the patients of a Utah doctor who accused the doctor of sexual assault during physical exams. According to the lawsuit, one BYU student claims that she was preparing for her wedding night by going on birth control for the first time. She says the doctor began a physical exam that began with him grabbing her breasts, feeling around in her pants without warning, and ultimately performing a rectal exam that the patient described as extremely painful. The 19-year-old patient had never had sex, was a practicing Christian, and was traumatized by the experience.
Problematically, a 19-year-old woman would not realize that the conduct she suffered was out of the ordinary. The doctor, of course, knows this. The woman went years believing that OB-GYNs did that sort of thing until she saw another OB-GYN years later. So, even though the patient feels awful about the experience, might have PTSD from it, and will be reluctant to see an OB-GYN again, the patient doesn’t realize that the doctor did anything wrong.
Now, with so many lawsuits filed against the same doctor alleging the same sort of misconduct, Utah judges have dismissed the lawsuits against him claiming that the doctor was, in his own mind, performing health care.
Under the law, medical malpractice lawsuits have special protections in order to prevent patients from suing the healthcare system into the ground. At least that’s ostensibly what we’re told these laws are for. In most cases, they just pad the coffers of hospitals that are reportedly running out of money anyway, not just because of medical malpractice lawsuits. In this case, the judge decided that the cases should be considered medical malpractice lawsuits and not sexual battery or medical battery lawsuits. This creates a problem for the plaintiffs because medical malpractice lawsuits are much more difficult to win than allegations of sexual misconduct, especially against someone who has 94 complaints against them.
Even if the jury returned a verdict of guilty and a judgment for the plaintiff, the damages would be capped by statute. Not only are the plaintiffs getting wronged, but the insurer for the doctor should not be forced to pay out a claim related to sexual battery. They will fight. So, the judge has placed the insurance company in the position of indemnifying a doctor for intentional misconduct. There’s no way the insurance company satisfies that claim without a fight.
This will be one of those rare cases where the medical malpractice insurer and the plaintiffs present a unified case against the doctor to avoid the matter being treated as medical malpractice. The doctor’s problems are not over, but the plaintiffs have been harmed by the judge’s ruling which, intentionally or not, provides protection to an alleged serial sexual predator.
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