Glen Burnie woman sues physician for $500,000 Charges of fondling at center of case

January 18, 1993|By Glenn Small and Jay Apperson | Glenn Small and Jay Apperson,Staff Writers

A 33-year-old Glen Burnie woman has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against a Baltimore County doctor, alleging that he fondled her during a routine physical examination.

In the suit, filed Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the woman charges Dr. Leo C. Cherrick with negligence and lack of informed consent.

She alleges that she suffered "mental and emotional anguish" resulting from an "inappropriate" breast exam on Jan. 16, 1990. She had gone to Dr. Cherrick for help with neck and back pain.

The woman had been in a car accident five days earlier and was referred to the Pain Treatment and Rehabilitation Center on Sandpiper Circle in White Marsh, said her lawyer, Gary A. Wais.

During the examination, Dr. Cherrick allegedly ordered the woman to undress in front of him, then began fondling her, said Mr. Wais. Immediately after the exam, the woman complained to the receptionist, but Mr. Wais said she never filed criminal charges against Dr. Cherrick.

James Koch, an attorney for Dr. Cherrick, said Thursday that he had not seen the suit and could not comment. Dr. Cherrick now lives in Bethesda and works in Quantico, Va. He could not be reached for comment.

According to Mr. Wais, at least seven other women complained that Dr. Cherrick had fondled them, and Dr. Cherrick's boss, Dr. Henry S. Sabatier, fired him on Feb. 15, 1990.

Court records show that Dr. Sabatier looked into "numerous" patient complaints and determined that Dr. Cherrick had performed "inappropriate" examinations on female patients between the ages of 17 and 32.

Dr. Sabatier then reported the reasons for the firing to the state health department's Board of Physician Quality Assurance, which has the power to revoke medical licenses.

The board investigated but took no action against Dr. Cherrick, other than to outline the proper method for examining a patient who has disrobed.

Dr. Cherrick filed suit last January, claiming that Dr. Sabatier had defamed him in his report to the state board. In the $2.5 million suit, Dr. Cherrick denied making the alleged advances.

In a disposition in October, Dr. Sabatier's lawyer, Roy Mason, asked Dr. Cherrick about allegedly performing improper examinations of three women, including the woman whose suit was filed last week, and about complaints that he ate food while examining patients, had body odor and looked "disheveled and very unphysician-like" while on duty.

In the deposition, Dr. Cherrick denied all allegations.

The suit was dismissed in November, and Dr. Cherrick was ordered to pay court costs.

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