Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.

Doctor Sexual Assault: How To Get Help

Sexual abuse by a doctor or medical professional can be an incredibly traumatizing experience for patients. Here is how you can report doctor sexual abuse and how you can seek justice and healing, including filing a doctor sexual abuse lawsuit.

Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • Doctor sexual assault and abuse cases have been making headlines over the last few years as brave survivors have come forward to report Dr. Hadden, Dr, Paduch, Dr. Zhi Alan Cheng, and Dr. Broadbent — all of which have faced criminal charges and civil lawsuits.
  • Many individuals who experience doctor sexual assault do not fully realize or label the experience as abuse or assault given the inherent trust in medical professionals and a lack of knowing what proper medical procedures may include. 
  • If you experienced any form of doctor sexual assault, Helping Survivors can help answer your questions regarding your legal rights and options and put you in touch with an experienced doctor sexual abuse lawyer today.

What is Doctor Sexual Assault?

Given the inherent trust in the doctor/patient relationship, many individuals who experience this form of harm may not recognize it in the moment. Additionally, doctors who commit these types of atrocities also often target vulnerable individuals who may not understand proper medical techniques or be able to advocate for themselves such as  low-income individuals, children, immigrants, women in poverty, and other vulnerable populations. 

Since medical examinations and procedures regularly involve undressing and the touching of intimate parts of your body, identifying inappropriate behavior can sometimes be challenging. Additionally, there have been cases where a doctor sexually assaulted patients during surgery while they were under anesthesia — meaning they have no memory of the harm. 

Generally speaking, sexual assault by a doctor is when a doctor disrespects your privacy and sexually assaults you through touch, penetration, or other inappropriate non-consensual acts such as exposing themselves. 

Examples of Doctor Sexual Abuse

Given patients may have a hard time identifying sexual abuse by a medical professional, we have created a list of explicit examples of doctor sexual abuse. Please note, these examples may be triggering to some individuals given the details of the potential harm we felt necessary to include. 

  • Touching intimate body parts without gloves
  • During procedures you feel they are doing unnecessary things, such as touching your anus or causing unnecessary pain
  • Disrespects your right to privacy by refusing to let a nurse stay in the room during examinations
  • Pressures you into undressing when you don’t have to (i.e., asking or pressuring you to undress when you’re going in to ask about your sprained ankle)
  • Pressures you into medically unnecessary physical examinations (i.e., asking or pressuring you for a gynecological exam when you’re only at the office for a flu shot)
  • Engages in voyeurism by installing video cameras in exam rooms and bathrooms
  • Makes sexually suggestive comments, expressions, or gestures before, during, and after examinations
  • Coerces or forces you into providing sexual favors in exchange for highly-addictive drugs like hydromorphone and oxycontin

If you have experienced any of these forms of doctor sexual abuse, you have legal rights and options to report the abuse to help stop it from occurring to you and others. We’ll talk more about these below, but Helping Survivors can answer specific questions you may have and put you in touch with an experienced doctor sexual abuse lawyer today.

While the general term for medical provider sexual abuse is generally referred to as “doctor sexual abuse”, perpetrators causing harm in a medical setting can have a variety of jobs beyond being a medical doctor (MD). 

Any health care professional can commit sexual abuse, including:

  • Dentists
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
  • Osteopaths
  • Physical therapists
  • Urologists
  • X-ray and imaging technicians
  • Pediatricians
  • Gynecologists
  • Nurses
  • Nursing assistants
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Medical assistants
  • Cosmetic surgeons

Regardless of who perpetrated the harm against you or a loved one in a medical setting, you have legal rights and options to prevent future harm and hold the individual or medical institution accountable for what happened to you.

Reporting Doctor Sexual Assault & Abuse

If you or a loved one has experienced any form of doctor sexual assault or abuse, you have rights and options to report the harm that happened to you. These rights and options may depend on the statute of limitations, which are state laws that determine how far back a crime can be prosecuted or an individual can file a lawsuit. 

To understand your legal rights and options, you should speak to an experienced doctor sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible as they can help you understand the statute of limitations and processes in your state. Here at Helping Survivors, we work with a variety of experienced and trusted law firms around the country and can put you in touch with someone today. 

In general, here are your reporting rights as a patient who experienced any form of medical sexual abuse.

Report to Healthcare Institution and Medical Board

One of the first steps to take after experiencing physician abuse is to report to the medical institution that employs the individual. This might be a hospital, a university, or a private practice that is led by a group of physicians. If the individual is employed by a large hospital or university healthcare system, the institution should have a website that should explain how to report. If they don’t, you can also call them and understand this process. If it is a private practice owned by the person who harmed you, you may want to go directly to reporting to the state medical board.

Each state has a licensing board that oversees medical licenses for doctors and other healthcare professionals. You can search “[state] + medical licensing board” online to find the specific state’s medical board information and reporting processes. 

When you report to an employer or a medical board, make sure that you document everything and maintain copies of all communications. If they call you, you can ask to record the phone call but email or written forms of communication are ideal. This can help you create a papertrail of your report and the actions the board took, should you wish to file a police report or a lawsuit in the future.

File a Doctor Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Over the last few years, hundreds of patients who have experienced doctor sexual abuse have come forward to file lawsuits against the individual and the medical institutions that employ the individuals who harmed them. Typically, lawsuits are filed by patients who reported but their reports were not taken seriously and the doctor was not reprimanded. 

Patients file lawsuits to seek financial compensation and public accountability for the harm that happened to them. An experienced attorney can help you understand if you have a case, what the process may look like, and potential settlement amounts could be. 

Below, you’ll find some of the major doctor sexual abuse cases and lawsuits that have made headlines. If you were a patient of these doctors or any other doctor who sexually abused you, reach out to us at Helping Survivors today and we can connect you with an experienced lawyer today.

Report Doctor Sexual Abuse to Law Enforcement

Medical professionals who sexually abuse patients can also face criminal repercussions including imprisonment if convicted. While many individuals do not report sexual abuse to law enforcement, we urge any patient who experienced doctor sexual abuse to report if possible. Reporting doctor sexual abuse to law enforcement can be a much easier process and less emotionally taxing than reporting an interpersonal issue, given the fear of retaliation or experiencing further or worse abuse is far more limited. 

To report to law enforcement, you will need to visit the local jurisdiction police precinct where the harm happened (not where you live). You can call ahead and schedule a time to visit the precinct or you can walk in and they are required to take your report. We highly recommend preparing ahead of filing a police report by documenting the harm that happened to you, gathering any evidence, and having someone come with you if possible. 

Once you report to law enforcement, this will kick off a criminal investigation based on applicable laws and available resources to investigate. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, filing a police report can create an important paper trail for you and others who may come forward.

Doctor Sexual Abuse Statistics

While research and studies documenting the scale of doctor sexual abuse are limited, there are some statistics about doctor sexual abuse and medical abuse in general.

  • A 2017 exploratory study of 101 cases of physician sexual abuse found that the primary forms of abuse were inappropriate touching (33%), sodomy (31%), rape (16%),and  child molestation (14%)
  • A 2016 analysis of data from the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) highlighted that from January 2003 through September 2013, 862 physicians had state licensing disciplinary actions related to sexual misconduct, totaling 974 such actions 
  • A 2006 study found that ⅔  of all complaints received by medical boards were closed either due to inadequate evidence to support the charges or because these cases were resolved informally — noting that only 1.5% of all complaints to medical boards reached the formal hearing stage
  • An Atlanta Journal-Constitution study found that since 1999, more than 3,100 doctors were publicly disciplined after being accused of sexual infractions — with more than 2,400 being sanctioned for violations that clearly involved patients. Their research also showed that many other cases were reported but handled privately. 

Many researchers have compared doctor sexual abuse to clergy sexual abuse, stating that the problem is as widespread and harrowing. Given that hundreds of patients have bravely come forward over the last few years to report doctor sexual abuse, file lawsuits, and seek justice by reporting to law enforcement, patients who have experienced harm by medical professionals should feel some hope.

Doctor Sexual Assault Cases in the Media

Unfortunately, there has been a recent proliferation in doctor sexual assault cases over the last decade. These doctors and medical professionals can sometimes have hundreds of victims over long careers, with the institutions they were employed for being found partially at fault for covering up claims. These are some of the most publicized cases of doctor sexual abuse that have made headlines recently.

Dr. Robert Hadden

In 2022, Dr. Hadden was indicted on federal charges after scores of women said he had sexually assaulted them. One of his victims was Evelyn Yang, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.It is believed that Dr. Hadden has hundreds if not thousands of victims spanning his 25+ year career as a gynecologist in New York.

If you were a victim of Dr. Hadden, there is still time to seek justice by participating in a civil lawsuit against him. We can help put you in touch with law firms leading these cases if you reach out to us today.

Dr. Darius Paduch

Dr. Darius Paduch is a former New York based urologist accused of medical sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment by dozens of male patients, including minors, over 19 years.

As of May 2024, Dr. Paduch was criminally convicted on 13 charges related to sexually abusing his patients, including six minor boys. You can get help if you were a patient of Dr. Paduch – and we can help put you in touch with the experts who can help you seek justice. Over 130 of his former patients have already come forward to file claims against Paduch and his employers and we can help you understand if you can file a claim as well.

Dr. Zhi Alan Cheng Case

Dr. Cheng was a Queens doctor who was charged in August 2023 with drugging, raping and filming the sexual assaults of a string of women, including patients at the prominent New York hospital. In March 2024, Cheng was arraigned on new charges related to sexually abusing another patient at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital. 

Maj. Michael Stockin Case

The January 2024 charges against the physician, Major Michael Stockin, include 48 counts of abusive sexual contact and five counts of indecent viewing under the military code of justice, with a majority, if not all of the 42 alleged victims being male. 

The case is ongoing and victims are encouraged to come forward.

Dr. David Broadbent

Dr. David Broadbent is a former Utah obstetrician-gynecologist who is facing allegations of medical sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment by over 100 women.

There are ongoing lawsuits happening against him and the institutions who kept him in a position of power. If you or someone you know was a patient of his, reach out to Helping Survivors to learn how you can seek justice.

Julie Wallach's Story:
Surviving & Preventing Future Doctor Sexual Abuse

Julie Wallach photo

Helping Survivors had the incredible opportunity to speak with Julie Wallach, one of the leading plaintiffs in the doctor sexual assault case against Dr. James Heaps. The following is her experience, in her own words. 

“In 1998, Dr. James Heaps, a gynecological oncologist at UCLA sexually assaulted me. He irreparably harmed my body; sent the nurse out of the room to “examine” me; made sexually harassing comments about my facial features and body parts; used unnecessary instruments to “examine” me; touched my inner thighs and forced them open without gloves. There is more but I flash in and out of being able to share about it.

The tricky part of medical sexual assault is that doctors are perhaps the most trusted humans next to clergy in this country, and I doubted his wrongdoing at first. I trusted that he had to do what he did, even though I felt creeped out, devastated and almost immediately dissociated from the extreme nature of the abuse. I questioned myself and what had just happened, thinking something must be wrong with me, that I caused him to prey on me. This is the same thread that ran in my life when my father abused me, and it is part of a trauma response to deplorable behavior. Predatory behavior is horrendously confusing.

Within a short period of time, I reported his predatory actions to the California Medical Board and UCLA. Both disregarded my concerns and were complicit in Heaps abusing hundreds (possibly thousands) of women. Two decades later, other survivors spoke out. I came forward with all of the documentation that I’d filed when I was assaulted. It’s possible that I was the first patient to file a formal complaint against the doctor and UCLA. 

After decades of healing, I accepted the invitation to be one of the lead plaintiffs in a landmark case against Heaps and UCLA. I had the honor of addressing the California Senate and Judiciary Committee, advocating to lift the statute of limitations for survivors and spoke at press conferences and on news outlets.

I am an incest survivor. I spoke out against my father, who molested me throughout my childhood. In 1998, when I was 18 years old, I had flashbacks of what he did to me. I spoke about it with my family; there was a deep lack of support but I continued to speak out and seek trauma-informed help. This ties into being abused by a gynecological oncologist, as I put all of my energy and attention into healing from my father’s predatory behavior only to be assaulted by the doctor after years of dedication to healing the aftereffects of trauma.”

She ended the interview with Helping Survivors answering the question: ‘What hopeful message would you give to survivors? How do they seek justice and healing?’ with the following message.

“Healing is deeply personal and unique to every survivor, but the following have been vital to my healing processes that span over three decades:

  • Say it aloud. Speak it. You don’t have to shout from the mountaintops unless you’re moved to do that, but if at all possible, talk about the assault with one person whom you trust. Saying the words aloud can feel terrifying and disorienting, but it is empowering and can be the first step to other forms of healing.
  • Find a professional or more who can support your healing. Individual talk therapy, EMDR, somatic therapy, fascia/bodywork, massage, dance, writing, painting and other forms of art therapy, finding a hobby that you love, physical activity, rest/sleeping all play a part in my healing. Finding what works is an exploratory adventure that builds on itself and positively affects so many areas of life – beyond the trauma.
  • If it moves you, become and advocate and activist. Speak at rallies, volunteer to tell your story, connect with other survivors in groups to share in collective healing. 
  • Be honest about the abuse. Saying it over and over helped to confirm what happened to me – it is so easy to fall back into self doubt as a trauma survivor. Keep sharing. 

It is absolutely possible to live a life beyond the intense anxiety, depression, shame, self-doubt, self-destructive patterns and habits and move into a life of deep self value, honest expression, enjoyable sexuality and authentic, deep empowerment.”

Today, Julie speaks publicly about surviving sexual assault, and facilitates one-on-one & group expressive writing workshops. More information on her work can be found here.

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