More patients come forward with abuse allegations against Virginia hospital, doctor

Posted at 12:40 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 09:59:56-04

NEW KENTY COUNTY, Va. — Nine former Cumberland Hospital patients are suing the New Kent County children’s hospital, its owner Universal Health Services (UHS), UHS of Delaware (UHS-D), and its former medical director, Dr. Daniel Davidow for $147 million. The law firm Breit Biniazan filed the multi-million-dollar lawsuit in Richmond Circuit court on August 11, 2022.

The complaint includes allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

“We have a young boy who is at the facility, a teenager who was strangled and choked out by a behavioral technician. We have others who have suffered other forms of abuse or maltreatment while they're at the facility, things that, unfortunately, we've seen repeatedly,” attorney Kevin Biniazan said.

Eight former female patients are accusing Davidow of inappropriately touching them while in his care inside the hospital he was forced out of in February 2020 after a CBS 6 Problem Solvers investigation into abuse and neglect claims against the hospital and staff.

The lawsuit details graphic sexual assault allegations dating back to 2009.

"That individual, according to all these young women, is placing his ungloved hand underneath their clothing, and touching them in their intimate body parts underneath their waist and so we have now more than two dozen more than three dozen consistent accusations of the same conduct from young women that have been, they're not just in a one or two year period of time in which they could have come together and decided what to say about this man. But over a decade, over a decade of young women who say the same thing has happened to them," said Biniazan.

The complaint states, “Davidow fraudulently stated that he needed to check the minor patient’s femoral pulse to coerce the minor patient’s compliance with his demands.”

CBS 6 Problem Solver Laura French spoke with Dr. Melissa Nelson of Pediatric Associates of Richmond, who is not affiliated with this case.

"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."

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers reached out to the American Academy of Pediatrics on when it’s appropriate for a doctor to check for a femoral pulse.

“AAP guidance for pediatricians called ‘bright futures,’ palpating femoral pulses is mentioned as part of the physical exam during infancy visits but there are not specifics included on how or when exactly this is done,” Lisa Black, spokesperson for AAP, said.

The last visit that a femoral pulse is listed in an exam in the Bright Futures Pocket Guide is nine months. The guide spans from newborn to 21 years old.

All eight of Davidow's accusers claimed they were first abused by him upon admission. Three accusers said it involved an invasive exam.

One complainant alleges, “In or about April 2017, during J.C.H’s admission process at Cumberland Hospital, Defendant Davidow took her into a private room with another Cumberland Hospital staff member present. Defendant Davidow placed his hand on her breast underneath her bra and cupped her breast thereby sexually abusing J.C.H. He then put his hand beneath her underwear and inserted his fingers in her vagina thereby sexually abusing J.C.H. again.  During this time, he asked her whether she had ever been in a sexual relationship with a boy or if she had ever been molested.”

"Would it ever be appropriate to do a femoral pulse internally in the vaginal area?" French asked Dr. Nelson.

"I can't think of any indication to be doing an internal femoral artery exam. I don't know how you would even do it,” Dr. Nelson responded.

One complainant alleged Davidow was not wearing gloves at the time of the exam.

According to the lawsuit, “In or about May 2016, during the admissions process at Cumberland Hospital, Defendant Davidow took H.N.M. into a private room for her admissions examination after meeting with her parents. At that time, Defendant Davidow told H.N.M. that he was going to check her pulse, after which he put his ungloved hand into her pants underneath her underwear. Defendant Davidow then touched H.N.M.’s intimate body parts rubbed her clitoris, and asked her if she was feeling what he was doing thereby sexually abusing H.N.M.”

“Would it ever be appropriate to do a vaginal exam without gloves on?” French asked Nelson.

"I would never do a vaginal exam without gloves on,” Nelson responded.

"I've been a pediatrician for 20 years and I have never seen an indication for doing a femoral pulse exam on an adolescent,” said Nelson. "When I hear about an adolescent who's having femoral pulses done by someone without gloves on, and doing it regularly, and also feeling their pubic hair during that assessment, I've got a lot of flags going up, and they're not good ones,” she added.

Since October 2020, 47 former patients have filed suit seeking more than $388 million of those patients, 38 are accusing Davidow of sexual misconduct.

"This was supposed to be a place where you got better. This was supposed to be a place where they sent you to get care to get treatment to improve your life. But really it was a prison," said Biniazan. "The legal system needs to be able to demonstrate to these young women that we're going to uncover the truth."

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers have confirmed that state health officials were aware of numerous sexual assault allegations against Davidow prior to the February 2020 Problem Solvers investigation.

Davidow has not been criminally charged in this case.

The hospital has been under criminal investigation by the Virginia State Police (VSP) for child abuse and neglect since October 17, 2017. VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller and New Kent County Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott Renick, both told the CBS 6 Problem Solvers that their investigations remained ongoing.

As part of the VSP criminal investigation, two Cumberland Hospital employees were criminally indicted.

Former psychotherapist Mickey Harden died by suicide on the day he was expected to plead guilty to a sex crime. Former behavior tech Stacey Burrell was sentenced to one year behind bars in December for intentionally burning a disabled child.

Davidow’s Attorney, UHS, and Cumberland Hospital declined to comment on this complaint citing pending litigation.

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