AJC study shines light on extent of sex abuse by medical professionals

Illustration from AJC series
Illustration from AJC series

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has launched an extensive study, spearheaded by a core group of reporters and staff, into the increasingly pervasive problem facing our health care system: sex abuse committed by medical professionals on the patients who trust them. Taking into account a multitude of public records spanning the past 16 years, the AJC has published a series of articles, videos, and other media with the purpose of displaying the scope of the issue which has for so long managed to remain veiled in secrecy.

This concealment of the extent of this problem is in no small part owing to the failure of the very institutions meant to shield the public from predatory individuals who seek to exploit their positions of power and status to manipulate and abuse vulnerable men, women, and children entrusted to their care. Medical Boards across the country have been established to regulate the medical profession and track any malpractice, abuse, or general violations of the Hippocratic Oath. Unfortunately, such institutions have failed to uphold their duty to protect the public for a variety of reasons. Possibly one of the most startling and disconcerting factors of this failure is the massive quantity of cases and complaints brought to the boards against doctors. Institutions also tend to cover up for these sexual predators and even when patients complain of abuse, medical facilities and boards do not turn the offenders in to police.

Kafoury & McDougal has represented multiple victims of sex abuse by medical professionals. The AJC investigation features media related to one of our own cases, including a video interview with victim Erin Vance speaking about the effects of her experience with Dr. Frederick Field. This case was one of our largest victories, which came against Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon in 2012. The jury returned a verdict of $2.4 million for three women who were sexually molested during surgery by anesthesiologist Frederick Field. Field was sentenced in 2012 to 23 years in prison for molesting a dozen women while they were in varying states of consciousness after having been sedated (19 total victims came forward). He concealed his crimes behind a standard surgical screen, often placing a female patient’s hand on his genitals, offering them reassuring words whenever he detected signs of struggle or resistance.

Another large victory came when Royshekka Herring filed a lawsuit against American Medical Response after being assaulted by an ambulance attendant, Lannie Haszard. He had had three such complaints in the 14 months prior to Ms. Herring’s assault, but AMR kept him on the job. In addition to the lawsuit, Haszard faced criminal charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison after admitting to abusing eight women.

In addition to our own cases, which can be found on our website, we also maintain a website documenting many cases of medical sex abuse going back as far as 1988 and spanning across most of the United States and even extending to other countries around the world.

As the AJC investigation, along with similar preceding investigations, has begun to bring to light, the issue of sex abuse by medical professionals can no longer be tolerated or ignored.

Additional Information

AJC series

Royshekka Herring article

Mid-Columbia Medical Center article

Medical Sex Abuse webseite