On July 27, a doctor in McKinney, TX was found guilty of sexually assaulting an elderly female patient. 45-year-old Donald Ozumba was sentenced two ten years in prison following two and a half hours of jury deliberation. More victims are suspected, and the Texas Medical Board has accused Ozumba of sexually assaulting a total of nine patients and inappropriate sexual conduct with four others. The board also suspended the doctor's medical license within a week of his arrest in 2017.
Six more sexual assault cases are currently pending against Ozumba.
Unfortunately, this case of sexual assault by a doctor is not unique. According to a national investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 450 doctors were brought before medical regulators or courts for allegations of sexual misconduct or sex crimes in 2016 and 2017. Sadly, nearly half of these doctors were permitted to continue practicing medicine. In some cases, doctors who were actually convicted of criminal offenses have been allowed to return to practicing medicine.
This latest investigation is a continuation of a larger one that was published in 2016, which found more than 3,100 doctors who were publicly cited for sexual misconduct between 1999 and 2015. According to the AJC, this is due to "a culture of coverups, secret discipline, and forgiveness that enabled abusive doctors to stay in practice in all 50 states.
Becoming the victim of sexual assault is one of the most traumatic things a person can experience. Unfortunately, many of these cases involve doctors with a history of sexual abuse who should have had their licenses revoked a long time ago. We spoke with victims rights lawyer Marc Lenahan about the legal options survivors have.
The victims of these crimes may have legal recourse through both the criminal justice and civil court systems. While prosecuting sexual offenders is a priority, the criminal justice system doesn't do much to directly assist survivors. This is why many victims decide to take legal action themselves and file sexual abuse lawsuits against the healthcare professionals who assaulted them.
Determining liability in these cases is circumstance-dependent. In some cases, both the perpetrator and their employer can be held liable. For example, an employer who knowingly hires a doctor with a history of sexual abuse may be considered negligent and held liable for damages in some cases. However, determining your legal options will require a careful evaluation by an experienced sexual assault victims lawyer.