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Former patient sues Brigham and Women’s doctor, alleging he sexually abused her during medical exams

A former patient of Dr. Derrick Todd, who left Brigham and Women’s Hospital in July amid allegations that he conducted unnecessary breast and pelvic exams of women, filed a lawsuit against the physician in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging he “sexually exploited, abused, harassed, and molested” her under the guise of medical treatment, according to court records.

The 19-page civil complaint names Todd, Brigham and Women’s, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Mass General Brigham Community Physicians Inc., and Charles River Medical Associates as defendants. It seeks unspecified financial damages for the former patient, Marianne “Mimi” DiTrani.

The Globe does not name alleged victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly as DiTrani has done.

“This is the ultimate betrayal,” said her attorney, Brian Perkins, in a briefing Tuesday across the street across from the Brigham buildings in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area.

DiTrani, whose lip quivered as she listened to her attorneys speak, told reporters that she went along with Todd’s examinations because she thought he knew best.

“You know — it’s a doctor,” she said, pausing. “He always had an answer. He’s very charming, very personable.”

She encouraged others to come forward if they believe they were victimized.

”None of this is in the victim’s control — none of this is the victim’s fault,” DiTrani said.

Mass. General Brigham, the health system that includes Brigham and Women’s, said Tuesday that it was reviewing the lawsuit.

DiTrani, a rheumatology patient, first saw Todd in November 2022 at Charles River Medical Associates in Framingham, the complaint says.

On the first visit, Todd “began subjecting her to a course of predatory grooming, boundary violating, mental, emotional, and physical sexual abuse that was masked by his position of power and authority over Plaintiff in dire need of treatment,” the lawsuit alleges.

He allegedly asked her a series of “inappropriate, invasive, and exploitative questions” about her appearance and sexual history before having her disrobe while alone with him in an examination room, the complaint alleges.

Todd then “performed a medically unnecessary, unwarranted, non-indicated breast examination,” the complaint alleges.

The examination was conducted without instruments normally used for a gynecological exam, according to the complaint. DiTrani saw him for multiple follow-up appointments between December 2022 and January 2023, the filing says.

Todd also began speaking by phone with DiTrani frequently, sometimes daily, and also sent inappropriate text messages, according to the lawsuit.

In December 2022, DiTrani asked Todd by email why he had performed a Pap smear during her last visit and he assured her that all gynecological and breast examinations “were part of his care and treatment,” the complaint says.

During each follow-up appointment he allegedly asked DiTrani “inappropriate sexual questions, made sexualized comments, performed sexualized breast examinations, and performed sexualized gynecological examinations that included digital penetration, all under the guise of medical treatment.”

In January, DiTrani moved to California for a job but Todd remained in contact, according to the complaint, continuing to “inappropriately” treat her remotely, prescribing medication, and frequently engaging with her through calls and texts, the lawsuit says.

She returned to Massachusetts in June after Todd allegedly pressured her to do so and saw him in his Framingham office multiple times, where he allegedly repeated the prior misconduct, according to the suit, which alleges that he contacted DiTrani as recently as Sept. 29.

Todd ultimately abused “countless female patients … in a serial fashion, while carrying out his deviant sexual desires,” the suit alleges.

It alleges the defendants “were aware of Todd’s proclivities to exploit and abuse female patients.”

“The Brigham and Women’s Defendants knew and/or should have known that Defendant Todd had a proclivity to abuse his patients, yet they ignored the warning signs, failed to supervise Defendant Todd, failed to properly train and supervise their staff, and violated the duties they owed to their patients,” the complaint alleges.

Last month, Todd voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine in Massachusetts and any other state, specifying that the agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.

“Dr. Todd has not seen the allegations in any lawsuit filed against him,” his lawyer, Ingrid Martin, said in a recent statement. “Over the course of his career he has been an outstanding rheumatologist and internist. To the extent that anyone is making a claim against him, Dr. Todd believes that he has done nothing wrong and will defend against it vigorously.”

Brigham and Women’s previously said it had first suspended Todd, who was chief of clinical rheumatology at Brigham’s Faulkner Hospital, and then “terminated” him on July 31 after an initial investigation that was prompted by complaints from two other physicians.

Brigham and Women’s notified the state Board of Registration in Medicine, which licenses and disciplines physicians, of Todd’s departure. The board did not comment on whether Todd is under investigation.

“After receiving two anonymous complaints about Dr. Derrick Todd, we immediately launched an investigation and then placed Dr. Todd on administrative leave once we learned more,” Dr. Charles Morris, the Brigham’s chief medical officer and senior vice president for medical affairs, said in a statement. “We made a decision to terminate his employment after the conclusion of that initial investigation.”

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and the Boston Police Department are also investigating allegations that Todd sexually assaulted multiple patients, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Todd also faces a medical malpractice lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court that was filed on Sept. 29 against Brigham and Women’s and the Charles River Medical Associates in Framingham. The case files have been sealed by Judge Lynn C. Rooney pending a hearing on Oct. 17.

Source: BostonGlobe October 10 2023

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