NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- For the second time in less than a year, Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence and its former Medical Director face a multi-million-dollar lawsuit. Eighteen former patients now seek $114.3 million. They claim they are the victims of sexual abuse.
“This is a facility that turned patients into prisoners. That turned young children who were going in there for hope,” attorney Kevin Biniazan, who represents the patients, said. “For the care that they were told that they would receive to get better, sexual abuse survivors who were told that this is the place where they will get the therapy so that they can move on and heal with their lives, only to be re-traumatized by the same abuse that got them there.
Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence remains at the center of a Virginia State Police criminal investigation about the alleged abuse.
The law firm of Breit Cantor filed the second multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescence, its parent company Universal Health Services, and its former Medical Director Dr. Daniel Davidow in Richmond Circuit Court Monday afternoon.
Monday's lawsuit, which comes after the firm filed a $127 million lawsuit in October 2020, brings the multi-claimant act lawsuit up to 38 claimants and $241.3 million in damages.
“I can tell you that there isn't a dollar or an amount of money that any of our clients or any other patient that has been to Cumberland Hospital would trade to have never gone there,” Biniazan said. “Ultimately, they want to hold somebody accountable because nothing could ever make up for the time that they lost and the trauma that they've suffered there.”
Davidow was Medical Director at the facility from 1996 until he left in February 2020 when a Problem Solvers Investigation brought to light allegations of abuse and neglect at the New Kent facility.
Eighteen former patients, one as young as seven years old when admitted, and one former patient by a conservator from the October suit, are listed in the complaint. Seventeen female former patients, one as young as 12 at admission, allege that they were sexually abused by Davidow.
The suit alleged Davidow would take the femoral pulse of female patients and “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.”
Davidow’s 29 accusers from the October and July lawsuits claimed he sexually abused them during the admission process. Many claimed the pediatrician was not wearing gloves when the alleged abuse happened.
In the July complaint, two plaintiffs claimed the sexual abuse continued.
Plaintiff “J.L.E.” claimed, “Later during her stay,” Davidow “needed to perform a pelvic exam and proceeded to spread her legs.” “Davidow then sexually abused J.L.E. by touching her intimate body parts and penetrating her vagina with his fingers and/or an inanimate object.”
The suit claimed plaintiff “E.C.” was instructed to report to Davidow “for additional examinations and ‘check ups’” where he “would sexually abuse “E.C.” in the same manner” of her admission exam. It stated Davidow “sexually abused E.C. on at least four separate occurrences.”
The complaint stated the hospital and its owner “knew or should have known” Davidow “was sexually abusing female patients on a week-to-week basis but did not report the sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities on every occasion.”
The complaint pointed out in April 2017, Dr. Davidow was under investigation by the New Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
According to a police report dated April 13, 2017, five female patients alleged they were “inappropriately touched by Davidow.”
It stated the allegations came out in a group therapy session led by an intern when the girls discussed Davidow’s “magical touch” to their intimate parts. The report also stated the girls advised the graduate student that "Dr. Davidow would check their pulse under their breasts and would play with their hair during the physical, twirling it around his fingers.”
However, their case managers told investigators they did not observe anything they felt was inappropriate during the exams.
But a psychotherapist at the facility did report to investigators that after polling his patients, “only one out of the approximate 12 patients present reported no inappropriate contact by Dr. Davidow.” He also told investigators that his boys’ group reported that Dr. Davidow took their pulse on their wrists.
Davidow was interviewed by the New Kent Sheriff’s Office and the New Kent Department of Child Protective Services on May 4, 2017.
The report stated:
“Dr. Davidow explains that during his exams he is rating the patient on the ‘Tanner’ scale which is based on certain developmental characteristics of breasts genitals and pubic hair, which is also why he checks the femoral pulse. While checking the femoral pulse on both sides, he advised he can also feel for the pubic hair development in order for him to scale the patient.”
-- New Kent Sheriff’s Office, Child Protective Services report.
Following that interview, the case was ruled unfounded.
“When you see the young girls who have multiple allegations of the similar abuse throughout their stay, you begin to ask the question, if this is the pretext, the reason Dr. Davidow is alleging or stating that he's doing this is to check puberty. What's the progression of puberty between a one, to two, to three-week period that requires multiple checks?” asked Biniazan.
The suit also alleges a male patient with the initials “B.E.J.,” who was seven years old at the time of admission, was “a victim of intentional physical and sexual abuse.”
The lawsuit does not name the alleged abusers in this case only stating they were employees and other residents at the hospital.
“The stories that are coming forward and our clients who have the strength to come forward and talk about what they experienced, is going to bring justice to whoever is attempting to run from the law at this point,” said Biniazan. “And so, you can run but you can't hide because where there's two, there's more. Where there are 36, I certainly believe that there are more. I think we're just at the beginning. We're not nearing the end.”
The lawsuit also alleged the hospital “encouraged unnecessary admissions” and excessive length of stay (LOS) with the specific purpose of increasing revenue.”
“What we're hearing is that this is a place, a system that traded cash for kids, and turned patients into prisoners until they were able to dispose them because insurance companies or the pockets couldn't pay for them to be there anymore,” said Biniazan.
We’ve reached out to Cumberland Hospital, its owner UHS, and Dr. Davidow through his attorney. Davidow's attorney shared the following statement.
"I have no comment to make at this time other than to repeat what I relayed to you in October 2020 in response to your inquiry about the initial lawsuits filed against Dr. Davidow. He denied then that he ever sexually assaulted or abused any patient at Cumberland or committed any of the acts raised against him. Dr. Davidow’s absolute denials continue to apply to claims of the nature you describe that might appear any subsequent suits," Michael L. Goodman said.
The accusations in the lawsuit must be proven in court, and the defendants will have an opportunity to defend themselves.