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Attorney prepares malpractice claim against Provo OB/GYN accused of sexual abuse

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jan 20, 2023

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

The sign for David Broadbent's office in the North University Medical & Dental facility in Provo is shown on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

On Oct. 4, 2022, Fourth District Court Judge Robert Lunnen dismissed a class action lawsuit against Dr. David Broadbent, a Provo obstetrics and gynecology specialist accused of sexual abuse and sexual battery of female patients. Over 80 women originally signed on to the lawsuit.

Lunnen did so because he believed the charges should have been medical malpractice claims and that pre-litigation procedures were not done correctly.

Now, attorney Eric Nielson is representing more than 20 “Jane Does” — along with other attorneys representing possibly up to 200 more women — in filing a malpractice claim against Broadbent, Nielson told the Daily Herald.

Nielson sent a letter to Utah County Attorney Jeff Gray on Wednesday, asking why the office did not pursue criminal charges against Broadbent.

“My clients are some of the most powerless individuals in our society — many do not speak English and they do not have health insurance,” Nielson wrote. “You will, of course, fulfill your oath as a prosecutor if you choose to prosecute Dr. Broadbent.”

When asked about Nielson’s letter and the decision to not charge Broadbent, representatives for the Utah County Attorney’s office were caught off guard and lacked background on the case.

“We’re still waiting for additional information,” said Tim Taylor, attorney’s office chief of staff.

According to then-county attorney David Leavitt, the case was not referred to his office by Provo police.

In his letter, Nielson argued in favor of charges for Broadbent by quoting policy from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. ACOG is the only professional organization for OB/GYNs and is universally regarded as the “governing body” for the specialty.

ACOG Recommendations Number 796 states, “Sexual misconduct by an obstetrician – gynecologist is an abuse of power and a violation of patients’ trust. Sexual or romantic interaction between an obstetrician – gynecologist and a current patient is always unethical, is grounds for investigation and sanction, and in some cases should be considered for criminal prosecution.”

The ACOG also states that Obstetrician-gynecologists are obligated ethically and professionally to report sexual misconduct or suspected sexual misconduct by any health care professional to appropriate authorities, such as supervisors, department chairs or other institutional officials, peer review organizations and professional licensing boards.

Nielson indicated that many of his clients came forward in March and April 2022 to describe their experiences to the Provo Police Department.

“The experience was profoundly disquieting. Investigating officers minimized their complaints. They were dismissive,” Nielson wrote. He added that officers asked a series of questions that clients found invasive including “Why didn’t you come to us sooner?” and “How do you know this wasn’t just a routine pelvic exam?”

According to ACOG guidelines, “Sexual impropriety may comprise behavior, gestures, or expressions that are seductive, sexually suggestive, disrespectful of patient privacy, or sexually demeaning to a patient that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Performing an intimate examination or consultation without clinical justification or appropriate consent;
  • Examination or touching of genital mucosal areas without the use of gloves;
  • Inappropriate comments about or to the patient, including but not limited to, making sexual comments about a patient’s body or underclothing, making sexualized or sexually demeaning comments to a patient, criticizing the patient’s sexual orientation, making non-clinically relevant comments about potential sexual performance during an examination.”

Jane Does accused Broadbent of violating all of these practices.

Nielson’s letter to Gray alleged that Broadbent, among other things, used deep penetration vaginally and rough rectal examinations on patients. Patients claimed that Broadbent was so rough in his examinations that his patients were left bleeding.

“This letter is not the right forum to delve into the individual medical history of each client that I represent. I think you get the point. Dr. Broadbent engaged in a pattern of behavior which clearly reveals an intent to obtain sexual gratification during these exams rather than an intent to gather useful clinical information about his patients. He is getting his rocks off, not looking for cancer,” Nielson wrote.

He added that Broadbent allegedly surrendered his medical license to the State of Utah within weeks of the initial accusations.

“Victims of sexual abuse live with the humiliation and shame of what happened to them every day. They are entitled to know that their elected representatives are not going to let Dr. Broadbent get away with this,” Nielson said. “They are entitled to know that similar behavior by other predatory healthcare providers will be deterred in the strongest possible terms. They want to know that their daughters, sisters, and friends will be protected from having to go through this in the future.”

Nielson informed Gray that he and others intend to prosecute Broadbent to the fullest extent of civil law.

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