WARNING: This story includes descriptions of alleged sexual abuse.
RICHMOND, Va. — A North Carolina teenager who said she was repeatedly sexually assaulted at a New Kent children’s hospital under criminal investigation for child abuse and neglect has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Cumberland Hospital, its owner Universal Health Services (UHS), UHS of Delaware (UHS-D), Dr. Daniel Davidow and the estate of Herschel “Mickey” Harden.
The law firm Breit Biniazan filed the multi-million-dollar lawsuit in Richmond Circuit court on December 14, 2021.
R.H., as she’s named in the 46-page lawsuit, was admitted to the Cumberland Hospital from a North Carolina group home on March 7, 2018.
Investigators said she was the victim of a sex trafficking ring and asked her identity not to be disclosed during an initial interview in February 2021.
When R.H. arrived at the New Kent hospital she said she’d detailed her past trauma and triggers to medical director Daniel Davidow prior to her admission physical that Davidow performed.
"First thing he says is I have to examine your breasts, so I'm like what?" R.H. said. "He puts both of his hands under my shirt, under my bra, almost like massaging me in a way, It made me so uncomfortable."
The complaint stated Davidow did that with “the intent to sexually molest, arouse or gratify, groped her breasts thereby sexually abusing R.H.”
“Then he was like, I need to make sure your pulse in your private area is intact. He takes his hand with no gloves on. He unbuttons my pants, under my underwear, and puts his whole hand, two fingers on each side of me and it’s just sitting there like this and then he slowly moves his middle finger in between me and puts his fingers in me," she said.
The complaint stated, “Davidow, with the intent to sexually molest, arouse, or gratify, then placed his hand beneath her underwear and penetrated R.H.'s vagina with his finger thereby sexually abusing R.H.”
“I wrote in my journal a lot of times [that] I felt like a worn-out pair of shoes," the teen said. "I just felt disgusting."
Twenty-nine former Cumberland patients made similar allegations against the former medical director in October 2020. In July 2021, they filed lawsuits totaling more than $241 million against Davidow, Cumberland, UHS, and Harden.
“For female patients, Defendant Davidow fraudulently stated he needed to check the minor patient's femoral pulse to coerce the minor patient's compliance with his demands," the lawsuit stated. "Defendant Davidow would place his hand beneath the minor patient's undergarments and sexually abuse the minor patient by intentionally touching the minor patient's intimate body parts.”
“Dr. Davidow wasn’t taking the femoral pulse of male patients, he wasn’t taking the femoral pulse of patients when their parents were in the room, he was only taking the femoral pulse of patients when they were alone when they didn’t have somebody there to speak for them and when they are the most vulnerable,” attorney Kevin Biniazan said.
Dr. Davidow has not been criminally charged in this case.
The estate of Herschel “Mickey” Harden was also named in the complaint.
"He sexually abused me so much I can't even remember or count the times," said R.H.
According to the complaint, “Harden sexually abused R.H. weekly, and often multiple times per week, amounting to hundreds of separate and distinct occurrences from approximately September 2018 until R.H. was discharged from Cumberland Hospital. Harden's sexual abuse of R.H. included vaginal penetration with his fingers and groping of her intimate body parts throughout her stay at Cumberland Hospital.”
The former Cumberland psychotherapist who was assigned to R.H. died by suicide in February 2021, the day the attorney general said he was to enter into a plea deal on a felony sex charge in the RH case.
“He pulled my pants down and started to push his fingers inside of me and he would take his hand and cuff it and put it over my mouth so that I didn’t make noises and the normal routine turning on the little sound thing and make sure the blinds were closed make sure the door was locked and sometimes he would cut on music to block out sound as well,” R.H. said “He would put his mouth on my ears and lick my ears. Breathe in my ears and kiss me down the side of my neck. It got worse and worse and worse, and nobody ever questioned it.”
The complaint alleged the abuse was talked about at the hospital.
“Harden's suspected sexual abuse of R.H. was a topic of discussion among agents and employees of Cumberland, UHS-D, and UHS, Inc. while she was a patient at Cumberland Hospital, and they knew or should have known Harden was sexually abusing the Plaintiff during her sessions with Harden,” the suit stated.
“On a separate date, a second therapist, who was also an agent and employee of Cumberland, UHS-D, and UHS, Inc., knocked on Harden's locked door while Harden was sexually abusing R.H. This therapist asked Harden why he heard screaming and noises coming from the office to which Harden responded that they were involved in therapy. The truth was that R.H. was screaming for Harden to stop sexually abusing and assaulting her - again,” the complaint stated.
“I would, would walk around Cumberland and staff members would look at me and I would be like they know this happened,” said R.H.
“I endured sexual abuse most of my life but leading up to Cumberland I was sexually trafficked for a year, and I was sent to Cumberland to be rescued from that and I was put right back into like a trap kind of like a prison again.”
CBS 6 reached out to the defendants in this case who could not comment due to the pending litigation.
As the CBS 6 Problem Solvers have been reporting since February 2020, the hospital has been under criminal investigation by the Virginia State Police for child abuse and neglect since October 17, 2017. Two employees were criminally indicted in connection to the case. In addition to Harden, former behavior tech Stacey Burrell was sentenced in December to one year behind bars for intentionally burning a disabled child.
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