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.

Kaiser Permanente: Doctor Sexual Abuse Allegations

Kaiser Permanente is a well-known health care provider serving millions of patients across the United States. Kaiser touts its reputation for providing quality, patient-centered care, but recent news has shed light on a darker side of the organization—a series of doctor sexual assault cases involving Kaiser health care providers. 
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Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • Increasingly, patients of Kaiser Permanente medical facilities are coming forward after experiencing abuse by the hands of doctors and medical staff
  • Many individuals who experience doctor sexual abuse do not realize it at first due to the inherent trust in medical professionals
  • If you have been impacted, you have legal rights depending on the statute of limitations and other laws: so get in touch with Helping Survivors as soon as possible so you can seek assistance and justice

What is Kaiser Permanente?

Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest not-for-profit health care providers in the United States, with over 12 million members, 40 hospitals, and 600 medical facilities. Founded in 1945, it offers both medical care and insurance plans to its members across eight states and the District of Columbia.

Over 235,000 employees work for Kaiser Permanente, including approximately 24,600 physicians and 73,600 nurses. While the health care giant boasts a strong reputation for providing quality health care, it also has a troubling history of sexual misconduct claims.

In many of these cases, Kaiser allegedly failed to take appropriate action to address complaints and protect patients, resulting in numerous lawsuits against the health care giant.

If you or someone you know have been a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a Kaiser provider, you do not have to suffer in silence. You have the right to speak up and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. Helping Survivors is here to help you explore your rights and options for seeking justice.

What Are Some of the Allegations Against Kaiser Permanente Hospitals?

Kaiser Permanente California Lawsuits

Kaiser Permanente and its employees—including doctors, nurses, and medical assistants—have been named in numerous lawsuits raising sexual misconduct claims. The following are just some of the recent allegations against Kaiser Permanente facilities that made headlines. All of these actions started because brave individuals stepped forward after realizing harm is happening and they could help make a difference.

  • California’s Department of Managed Health Care – In May 2022,  an investigation began after the agency received a large number of “complaints received from enrollees, providers, and other stakeholders concerning the plan’s behavioral health operations.” Just three months later, a union representing 2,000 mental health workers at Kaiser Northern California organized a 10-week strike to protest long patient wait times and heavy clinician workloads. In October 2023, Kaiser Permanente was ordered to pay a $200 million settlement, which involves a a $50 million fine and an agreement to invest $150 million over five years to improve its mental health programs.
  • Gardena facility –  January 2023, a 37-year-old man filed a lawsuit alleging that one of the doctors at a Kaiser Permanente facility in Gardena sexually abused him when he was a child. According to the lawsuit, the alleged perpetrator, who specialized in both pediatrics and endocrinology, touched the plaintiff inappropriately on multiple occasions between 1996 and 1998. The lawsuit asserts that Kaiser Permanente received at least one complaint of the doctor’s inappropriate behavior by 1985 but concealed the allegations, allowing the doctor to continue to abuse young boys.
  • Efrain Castanon – In January 2018, a woman filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente for its negligence that contributed to the 2017 sexual assault she experienced during a routine doctor’s appointment in Union City, California. The lawsuit alleged that medical aide Efrain Castanon forced the plaintiff to touch his genital area. It also alleged that Castanon had at least six prior victims and that Kaiser was aware of his history but allowed him to keep working.
  • Dr. Stephan Kempiak – In January 2020, a woman filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against Dr. Stephan Kempiak, a Kaiser Permanente dermatologist whom she saw to address sores in her mouth at a San Marcos clinic in 2018. According to the allegations, Kempiak instructed the plaintiff to remove her clothes, examined her breasts and buttocks, and asked to perform a vaginal exam. When the plaintiff refused the vaginal exam, Kempiak retaliated against her by prescribing a bogus treatment plan.
  • A second case against Kempiak – Another patient filed a lawsuit against Kempiak for sexual abuse that allegedly occurred from 2015 to 2016 when she sought his help for ingrown pubic hairs. Kempiak allegedly rubbed the plaintiff’s breasts for an extended period and penetrated her vagina with ungloved fingers.
  • Emmanuel Iheke – In January 2014, a Kaiser Permanente employee filed a lawsuit against Kaiser and Emmanuel Iheke, a fellow employee who sometimes supervised her. According to the allegations, Iheke grabbed the plaintiff’s breasts and buttocks and requested to have sex with her. The plaintiff complained to Kaiser management three times over five years, and they did nothing to address the problem. Her final complaint prompted an investigation, but Kaiser failed to discipline Iheke, who continued to work at the Kaiser facility.
  • Dr. Arif M. Seyal – In March 2019, a former Kaiser Permanente medical assistant filed a lawsuit against Kaiser and Dr. Arif M. Seyal, a North Valley allergy specialist who was both her supervisor and her physician. Seyal’s inappropriate behavior allegedly began in 2005 when he invited the plaintiff out of town for business purposes and performed sexual acts on her while she was intoxicated and not fully conscious. This pattern of behavior continued for five years, with Seyal repeatedly raping the plaintiff while remaining in his position of authority over her.

Kaiser Permanente Maryland Lawsuits

  • Dr. Bryan S. Williams – In August 2017, several women filed a class-action lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente for its failure to address their complaints of sexual assault by Dr. Bryan S. Williams. Williams allegedly inappropriately touched at least 12 women during exams at Kaiser office locations in Largo and Kensington, Maryland, between 2010 and 2014. The lawsuit alleges that Kaiser received multiple complaints of Williams’s behavior but did little to prevent him from continuing to abuse patients.

Kaiser Permanente Oregon Lawsuits

  • Alex Matthew Woolner – In April 2016, two women filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente regarding sexual misconduct by nurse Alex Matthew Woolner at a Beaverton, Oregon, clinic earlier that year. According to the allegations, Kaiser failed to properly supervise and investigate Woolner and did not adequately train its employees on how to handle sexual misconduct claims. The women alleged that Woolner performed unnecessary gynecological exams on them and made inappropriate sexual statements to them.
  • Tyler Hine – In September 2017, a man filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente on behalf of his deceased wife, who passed away from liver cancer in 2016. Nine months before her death, the wife reported that a nurse sexually touched her vaginal area at a Kaiser hospital in Clackamas, Oregon. The man’s lawsuit claimed that Kaiser failed to respond appropriately to the initial complaint, which added to his wife’s emotional turmoil during her hospitalization. Kaiser eventually identified the nurse responsible for the abuse as Tyler Hine.

What Is Doctor Sexual Assault and How Are Medical Institutions Responsible for Creating Safe Spaces? 

Doctor sexual assault occurs when a physician or other medical professional makes inappropriate or non-consensual sexual contact with a patient. This type of abuse can take many forms, such as touching, groping, penetration, or even showing pornography to a patient.

Medical institutions have a legal duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for their patients—one in which they don’t have to fear being sexually violated by a trusted health care provider. This duty includes implementing policies and procedures for reporting and investigating any allegations of abuse and taking action to prevent future incidents. It also includes properly vetting employees to make sure they have no history of sexual misconduct before allowing them access to patients.

Reporting Doctor Sexual Assault to the Hospital or Medical Institution

Victims of doctor sexual assault are encouraged to report the misconduct not only to protect themselves but also to prevent potential future victims. Victims may file a report with the medical facility where the incident occurred or submit a formal complaint to the state medical board.

If you file a report with the facility, be sure to do so in writing. Keep a record of all communications related to the report, including dates, times, and names of individuals you spoke with. Collect any documents or evidence supporting your claim, such as medical records or photographs.

The medical facility should take your report seriously and conduct a thorough investigation. If the facility fails to take appropriate action, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against it. A health care provider may be held liable if it overlooks the harm and creates an unsafe environment for patients.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against Kaiser Permanente for Doctor Sexual Abuse?

If Kaiser Permanente ignored your report or allowed a medical professional to continue causing harm and their negligence contributed to your sexual abuse, you could be eligible to seek compensation through a civil claim. However, you must do so within the statute of limitations. This law sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Each state has a different statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for doctor sexual abuse which is why talking to an experienced lawyer is important.

Exceptions to the deadline apply in certain circumstances, such as in cases involving minors who are victims of sexual abuse. That means you may still have rights and options even if you experienced the abuse many years ago. An attorney can help you determine if your case falls within the statute of limitations and advise you on the best course of action.

Criminal charges against the perpetrator may also be an option, but these are separate from civil lawsuits and have their own statute of limitations. This option can result in criminal consequences for the perpetrator but does not compensate victims for their damages.

If you’ve been the victim of doctor sexual abuse, you don’t have to navigate the experience alone. You have rights and legal options. Contact Helping Survivors to learn more about filing a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente and get the support, resources, and empowerment you need during this difficult time. We can introduce you to an experienced attorney who will provide a free consultation and if they can represent you, file a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente on contingency — meaning there are no upfront costs to seeking help and healing. 

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