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Patient says doctor drugged her before alleged sex assault; Retired investigator: 'It would haunt me at night'

Posted at 11:21 PM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 11:59:53-05

WARNING: This story contains material some viewers may find disturbing due to graphic details of alleged sexual assault and abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- An alleged victim of former Cumberland Hospital medical director Daniel Davidow says he drugged her before sexually assaulting her.

“I remember just looking up and there were tears in my eyes,” alleged victim K.J. recounts after she says she was given a high dose of an antipsychotic medication before being assaulted. K.J. primarily suffers from multiple gastrointestinal issues.

Dr. Daniel Davidow was indicted by a grand jury on November 21 on two charges of aggravated sexual battery of someone who is incapacitated and two counts of object sexual penetration by force.

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The indictment stated Davidow sexually abused a patient with the initials K.J. from October 16, 2017, until December 1, 2017. Problem Solvers reporter Laura French traveled to Florida to interview K.J in October 2020.

Davidow is also accused of abusing a patient with the initials R.H. from March 1, 2018, until April 30, 2018. She spoke to CBS 6 in February 2021.

In both cases, investigators allege Davidow committed abuse “through the victim’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness.”

“There are dozens and dozens, and dozens of victims and it floors me that he still has his medical license,” said retired Virginia State Police Senior Special Agent Marcie Clifton.

Marcie Clifton started investigating claims of abuse and neglect against staff at the New Kent county facility on October 17, 2017, until she retired for medical reasons in March 2020.

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"I have been working on this case for so long. Even though I'm retired from the state police, I think about it every day,” said Clifton. “To hear that he was finally going to be brought to justice, it was very emotional,” Clifton added.

Dr. Alexis Aplasca, the chief clinical officer for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, (DBHDS) filed a Virginia Department of Health Professions complaint against Davidow after an inter-agency meeting was held on January 30, 2020, with the Virginia State Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Medical Assistance Services, DBHDS, and the Virginia Department of Health. The CBS 6 Problem Solvers obtained the complaint through the Freedom of Information Act.

“That meeting was primarily pulled together by the Department of Social Services to really alert the state agencies and other organizations, entities about the widespread nature of it,” said Aplasca.

The complaint stated that “CPS provided accounts of over one dozen allegations of abuse, physical and sexual, by Dr. Davidow.”

She also stated that “practice of medicine that does not meet the standard of care and places individuals at risk of medical harm due to mismanagement.”

“He's not a trained psychiatrist. These are complex kids and they were on multiple doses of medications without the involvement routinely of a psychiatrist, without the input and diagnostically did not make sense from my professional opinion, which, you know, is my entire professional background,” Aplasca added.

One of the medications listed in the DHP complaint was Thorazine.

"Dr. Davidow had taken me off a lot of the medications I was on," explained K.J. “He put me on Thorazine in very high doses.”

”Almost every child that I talked to was given Thorazine,“ said Clifton.

“Most of these kids were administered Thorazine, which was discovered in the 1950s,” said Aplasca. “You know, it is a very sedating and strong antipsychotic and it’s used for adults with very serious, psychotic symptoms and that's not what these kids had.”

“Some of the interviews that I did, would haunt me at night, you know, some of the more egregious, especially the ones where the children would talk about being on these high-powered drugs, and sexual things were being done to them, and they felt paralyzed or trapped in their own body, and they couldn't cry out, and they couldn't move. That's some of the things that bother me the worst,” said Clifton.

“I had just received a dose of Thorazine.” explained K.J. “He said, ‘get up on the table and pull down your pants’ and I was like ‘Why? Why do I need to do that? I don't have any medical reason you would need to be doing these’ because this had been probably less than a week since my admission date that he was doing this again,” K.J added.

“What do you remember about the exam?” asked Problem Solver Laura French

“I remember I got up on the table and I could barely even move because I was scared and didn’t know how to express it and I was very drugged and very out of it,” said K.J. “He had stuck his fingers inside, I feel like it was definitely longer this time. He didn’t speak much during this exam. He was very quiet, but he also did something he had never done. He was touching other parts at the same time,” she added.

“I have a very strong feeling and belief that I was put on it so I wasn't able to object to things. I was sedated. I was numb. I wasn't myself. I couldn't say no or stop him when he was doing something I didn't like," KJ added.

“What would your message be to all these alleged victims because as you said, you know, ‘there's dozens,’” French asked Clifton.

“There are, there are,” Clifton acknowledged. “I heard them, I love them. When it actually comes down to it, I'm gonna be there. I’m gonna be there,” she added.

Dr. Davidow was released on a $20,000 bond Tuesday from the Henrico County Regional Jail. At a bond hearing in New Kent County, a judge-imposed terms on his bond. He must stay in Virginia, undergo pretrial supervision, have no contact with alleged victims and their families and have no unsupervised visits with any non-relatives under 18 years old.

During Tuesday's bond hearing, Commonwealth's Attorney Scott Renick argued there were a “number of alleged victims” and “additional charges” could be coming as the police investigation is finalized.

Davidow's defense said they were prepared to defend this case and pointed out Davidow has no previous criminal record.

Davidow is due in court on January 30, 2023, for a status hearing.

Davidow served as Cumberland’s medical director for more than 20 years but was terminated in February 2020, shortly after a CBS 6 investigative report detailing some of the accusations against him.

In the last two years, 47 former Cumberland patients have filed lawsuits against the hospital and its owner, Universal Health Services (UHS), seeking more than $388 million. Of those patients, 38 accuse Davidow of sexual misconduct.

The law firm Breit Biniazan is representing the plaintiffs, including K.J. and R.H.

“This is the right place to start,” Kevin Biniazan said in reference to the criminal charges. “Ultimately our justice system needs to work together, that's criminal and civil justice. For two years, for longer than that, we believe that they have been behind. Behind on justice, behind on what our clients have been most passionately looking for which is accountability of this individual and this is the beginning and certainly not the end. We’re grateful more than anything to see that there is some action to finally hold this individual accountable criminally for what he has done.”

Dr. Melissa Nelson of Pediatric Associates of Richmond, who is not affiliated with this case, has previously questioned the practice of conducting a femoral pulse check on a teenager.

"In pediatrics, it's important to assess a baby's femoral pulse as a critical way to pick up on congenital heart disease, especially in the newborn period,” Nelson said. "The last time I would check a femoral pulse is probably around six months of age."

Davidow became the third Cumberland employee to be criminally indicted.

Psychotherapist Herschel “Mickey” Harden died by suicide in February 2021, the day prosecutors said he was to plead guilty to a sex crime against a former patient. R.H. was also the alleged victim in that case.

Later that year, a behavior technician named Stacey Burrell was convicted of burning a non-verbal patient with hot water.

The Harden and Burrell cases were prosecuted by the Office of the Virginia Attorney General, but the Davidow case is being handled by New Kent County prosecutors. Aside from acknowledging the indictments, Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Renick has said his office will offer no further comment at this time.

Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jason Miyares, told the CBS 6 Problem Solvers their office would provide help if they are asked for assistance.

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, said their administration will "assist in the ongoing matter" and make sure "the care provided to these children is high quality."

"The alleged acts by this individual are heinous and have greatly impacted the children entrusted to his care and the community," Porter wrote. "This comes at a time when our children are fragile and need the loving attention of parents and the support of the community."

CBS 6 has not heard back from Cumberland or its parent company UHS for comment.

Davidow currently has an active medical license, due to expire in October 2024. If convicted of a felony, his license would be immediately suspended, according to Diane Powers, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

Watch for Problem Solvers Investigations Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. Click here for more of our investigations or to submit a tip to the Problem Solvers.

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