USA Today: Cleveland Clinic obscured allegations of sexual misconduct by surgeon

An investigation by USA Today found Cleveland Clinic knew a surgeon had been accused of rape by two patients, but kept him on staff while reaching a confidential settlement with one of the patients.    

Patient Lachelle Duncan alleged Ryan Williams, MD, raped her during an appointment on April 11, 2008, according to the report. Ms. Duncan pressed charges, but a rape kit proved inconclusive and Dr. Williams passed a polygraph test. She later sued Cleveland Clinic and agreed to a confidential settlement.

Almost a year later, on Feb. 6, 2009, patient Kristin Fehr had an appointment with Dr. Williams in which she was given two unspecified white pills to take before having a hemorrhoid removed, according to the report. Ms. Fehr said she was groggy throughout the appointment, and it wasn't until October 2014 when memories of Dr. Williams raping her started to resurface, according to the report. She reported the case to the Cleveland Clinic ombudsman and later brought it to the police. Ms. Fehr, however, cannot press charges or sue Cleveland Clinic because the statute of limitations for medical malpractice and rape in Ohio is one year, according to the report.

Dr. Williams has not been criminally charged for either case, and he denied the allegations to USA Today.

Dr. Williams left Cleveland Clinic mid-2017 for reasons unrelated to the alleged sexual assaults, and he moved to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, according to the report. He was placed on leave in December, after USA Today contacted OSU Wexner about the allegations. A spokesman told USA Today it was the first they had heard of the allegations, and the medical center performed background checks on Dr. Williams before he was hired. 

In an emailed statement to Becker's, the Clinic said it "is strongly committed to protecting the rights and safety of our patients, visitors and caregivers from any type of inappropriate behavior. We have processes for employees and patients to report any concerns, which are then thoroughly investigated.

In these cases, we immediately reported the accusations to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and cooperated fully with the investigations. No charges were made against the physician and he passed a polygraph test.

We care deeply about patient safety and any form of misconduct is not tolerated."

Read the full USA Today story here.


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