Virginia Pediatrician Arrested for Allegedly Molesting Patients
A Woodbridge pediatrician was recently arrested in connection with sexual assaults on two female patients that occurred multiple times between 1992 and 2020. The case shines a light on a crime that often goes unreported — medical sexual abuse.
Dr. Leonard Lee Touchette was arrested for offenses against one girl who was between the ages of 11 and 17 when the incidents took place. According to the allegations, the other child suffered abuse from the time she was two until she was eight.
Touchette faces two charges of object sexual penetration and two counts of aggravated sexual battery that occurred in his office at Potomac Pediatrics P.C. The office is now closed, and the Prince William County Police Department is continuing to investigate.
What is Doctor Sexual Assault?
We trust our doctors to provide quality medical care when we need it. When physicians sexually assault patients, they violate the individual, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics, and the law.
Sexual abuse by doctors can include:
- Inappropriate touching
- Unnecessary medical procedures
- Making sexual remarks
- Asking questions that do not correspond to the reason for the appointment
- Examining patients without gloves
- Having the patient remove clothing unnecessarily
- Assaulting patients who are unconscious or mentally incapacitated
- Masturbating in front of the patient
- Taking unsolicited photos
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know the prevalence of sexual misconduct is in the medical profession. Like sexual assault cases in general, medical sexual abuse often goes unreported. One study estimated that fewer than 1 in 10 patients report cases of doctor-patient sexual abuse.
Like sexual assault victims in the overall population, patients abused by their doctors often feel intense shame after being violated. Other reasons for not reporting include:
- Fear: Patients may experience direct threats from the practitioner or worry that others will think they were “asking for it.”
- Not knowing whether it was assault: Sexual abuse can be subtle. Comments might hover on the line between appropriate and inappropriate. For example, it might be necessary for a provider to urge you to tell them if something hurts during a procedure or exam. However, it could be sexual misconduct if the provider asks you if something feels good in a lewd way or tells you to be quiet while they do it.
- Lack of knowledge: Patients who are sedated or unconscious have no knowing for sure what happened, which could discourage them from reporting suspicions.
- Inability to give consent: People who are intellectually disabled or members of a vulnerable population, such as the elderly or minors, cannot consent legitimately to sexual contact.
Sexual Assault and Medical Malpractice
Medical sexual assault is certainly a crime. It’s also a horrific form of medical malpractice. Survivors can hold assailants civilly liable by filing a negligence claim against the provider. The hospital or clinic that employed the practitioner could also be liable, especially if they fail to take action when an instance of sexual assault is reported.
When a survivor’s allegations are dismissed or ignored, it only makes the trauma worse. Patients often suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and turn to drugs or alcohol to cope after being abused by their doctors.
Keep in mind that doctors are not the only ones who can be liable for malpractice in a healthcare setting. Nurses, assistants, orderlies, lab technicians, and other providers can also be held accountable through a medical malpractice claim. Anyone who tried to cover up the assault may also be liable.
If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual abuse by a health care professional, you don’t have to live in shame, and you’re not alone. You have rights, and the medical malpractice attorneys at Bertram Law Group can help you enforce them.
With more than 30 years of experience, our attorneys take a unique approach to these complex cases in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. As former defense attorneys for health care providers, our medical malpractice lawyers have an insider’s perspective on how medical providers treat patients and defend against medical malpractice claims. We use these invaluable insights to your benefit, crafting aggressive litigation strategies aimed at recovering maximum compensation.
When we get started, a D.C. medical negligence attorney from our firm will work quickly to assess the facts of your case and consult with a medical expert to determine the merit of the legal claim. We do this at no cost to you. If we believe you have a case, we will move forward immediately to demand the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Compensation After Medical Sexual Misconduct
We know there’s no true way for survivors to attain absolute justice after a sexual assault. But filing a medical malpractice claim can provide financial support in the wake of such a traumatic experience.
Compensation in a medical sexual assault case may include money for:
- Therapy costs
- Medical expenses
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages
We know you’re not looking to be a hero. But your act of courage in reporting your physician could empower other survivors to come forward.
We’ve seen these tremendous acts of bravery more frequently in recent years with the rise of the #MeToo movement. For example, Dr. Larry Nassar was sent to prison for the sexual assault of women and girls from USA Gymnastics, where he was the physician for some of the nation’s top Olympic gymnasts. It later emerged that he molested numerous girls, some as young as six, in several Michigan counties and as a professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.
Contact Bertram Law Group Today
If you’re a survivor of medical sexual misconduct, the D.C. medical malpractice lawyers at Bertram Law Group will stand up for you. You’re never alone with our attorneys by your side, and you can count on us to leverage our three decades of experience to push for the results you deserve.
We represent clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Call or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
If you’re in crisis, you can also call to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.