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Judge finds Virginia doctor not guilty in sex abuse trial

Posted at 3:26 PM, Apr 26, 2024

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- A judge found Dr. Daniel Davidow not guilty of sexually abusing two of his former female patients. The verdict, read Friday afternoon, concluded the week-long trial of the former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents. CBS 6 has extensively covered this case since 2020.

In what he described as a difficult case, Judge B. Eliot Bondurant found Daniel Davidow not guilty on all four felony counts he was charged with, including two counts of object sexual penetration.

The judge said he made his decision after dissecting the testimony, and said it came down to the credibility of the accusers of the witnesses. Bondurant said his verdict was based on inconsistencies from the accusers, saying that each young woman had given two to three different versions of what took place.

Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, sex abuse trial
Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, outside of court.

The day began with Davidow, the former longtime chief medical officer at the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, taking the stand in his own defense.

Davidow testified that he had no special recollection of the initial admissions exams given to either alleged victim but said if he had done what he was accused of it would have been fairly obvious to the female chaperones who were in the exam room with him.

Both accusers claimed that Davidow had inappropriately touched their pubic hair and penetrated their vaginas with his fingers during those exams, saying it happened specifically at the time that Davidow was checking their femoral pulses, located near where the thigh joins the abdomen.

Davidow said he never touched the vagina during those checks, and he even performed a demonstration with a partial mannequin during his testimony.

Davidow testified that in 2019 he was informed that he was under investigation by Virginia State Police and said that he later resigned as Cumberland’s medical director because the bylaws of the hospital would not allow him to continue in that role while being investigated by police.

He also said that VCU, where he had taught for years, stopped their association with him after they learned about litigation.

Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, sex abuse trial
Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, sex abuse trial

New Kent Department of Social Services Family Services Supervisor Maria Terbea testified that from January 2019 to July 2021 there had been 82 suspected child abuse and neglect reports at Cumberland Hospital.

She said some were founded, some were deemed unfounded, and some were pending. She testified that there has been a “significant decrease” since there was a change in leadership in 2020.

During closing arguments, New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney T. Scott Renick admitted that one of the accusers was not clear on when her offense took place but said being on the antipsychotic drug Thorazine at the hospital had to have impacted her memory.

He did say that the young woman was clear that she was penetrated by Davidow and that she did not want it. He said Dr. Davidow used his femoral pulse exams as a ruse to get into patients’ pants.

Renick said the other accuser was credible and organized. Renick also said the fact that both women delayed reporting the alleged abuse was reasonable given the circumstances.

Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, sex abuse trial
Dr. Daniel Davidow, former medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, sex abuse trial

During his closing argument, defense attorney Craig Cooley again brought up the multi-million-dollar civil suit that both women are involved with, along with dozens of other accusers.

Cooley said because of that litigation, both women had an interest in the outcome of the criminal case while saying his witnesses had no dog in the fight, they just wanted a just verdict.

Cooley also said Davidow had never dodged or avoided any questions or investigation and instead had provided the accusers the highest standard of care, as he was taught.

During rebuttal, Renick mentioned that there was no civil suit at the time that the accusers first reported abuse, and he referenced a previous expert witness’s testimony that only 2-7% of sex assault accusations from children are false.

He also pointed out that most witnesses for the defense were at one time or currently affiliated with Cumberland Hospital. He also said they are mandated reporters so “they have a big dog in the fight."

Ultimately, Bondurant said he thought it was “really telling” that two nurses testified that they were chaperones for the exams in question and said that they said nothing inappropriate happened.

"We're pleased with the verdict," Cooley said outside of court. "It was based on the evidence and was the correct verdict."

Following the verdict, Renick thoughts were with the former patients he represented.

"They came in here and they stood up and that's not easy to do when you went through everything that they went through," he said. "I think it's the Commonwealth's responsibility to give them the opportunity to have their voices heard. I'm glad that we could at least do that."

Kevin Biniazan, who represents the alleged victims in the civil suit, praised his clients' determination.

"Our clients knew that they were coming forward against a system, against an institution. That institution is a multi-billion dollar institution," Biniazan said. "And yet they still had the courage to step in that witness stand and tell their truth. And we are incredibly proud of them for doing that."

Those alleged victims are two of 46 plaintiffs who are part of a $397 million civil suit against Davidow, the hospital and its owner. That trial is scheduled to begin in September.

Tap the link below to read previous coverage of the trial and investigation.

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