Lawsuit against doctor alleges two years of sexual harassment

March 28, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Saying she was sexually harassed for more than two years, a New Windsor woman has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a former Carroll County General Hospital doctor.

Vicki Sullivan claims in the 10-count suit that Dr. Lester Harvey Banks "engaged in an escalating, wrongful and unwelcomed course of verbal and sexual harassment" between September 1989 and September 1991.

Ms. Sullivan, a receptionist at the Westminster hospital, claimed in the suit that the alleged abuse "consisted of improper sexual advances and demands, other improper verbal statements and improper physical touching of her."

Dr. Banks of Westminster no longer works for the hospital, according to the suit.

"As a result of [Dr.] Banks' misconduct toward Sullivan, Carroll County General Hospital conducted an investigation and subsequently caused [him] to be removed from their staff," the suit says.

Linda Harder, a hospital spokeswoman, declined to comment on Dr. Banks, citing confidentiality rules. A receptionist who answered the hospital's switchboard Friday said there is no Dr. Banks on staff.

The suit seeks $100,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages in each of 10 counts.

Daniel J. Bartolini, the Eldersburg lawyer who represents Ms. Sullivan, said Friday: "This is her first experience in the work setting, and she has this happen to her. This molds you for the rest of your life.

"You look at Vicki Sullivan, and she's a good-looking young lady, fresh out of high school. Should she be treated like that only because some man found her attractive?"

Dr. Banks could not be reached for comment.

The receptionist who answered the phone at Professional Emergency Physicians -- the company that placed Dr. Banks at Carroll County General and a defendant in the suit -- said there is no Dr. Banks employed there.

Dr. Banks' home telephone number is unlisted. No one answered the door when a reporter went to his home Friday.

A copy of the lawsuit and a letter seeking comment were left at his home, but he had not responded as of last night.

According to the State Board of Physician Quality Assurance, Dr. Banks' current two-year medical license is valid until September. He has been a doctor in good standing since August 1982, the board said.

A charge of unprofessional conduct against him was lodged with the board in November, but the nature of the accusation is confidential unless the board takes any disciplinary action.

The lawsuit says Ms. Sullivan -- who did not return phone calls seeking comment -- "experienced a severely disabling, emotional response." She "has been forced to expend large sums of money for mental and psychological evaluation."

According to the suit, Dr. Banks also "negligently, recklessly, intentionally and/or maliciously published false and defamatory statements about" Ms. Sullivan.

The suit -- filed in Carroll Circuit Court on Thursday -- had yet to be served on Dr. Banks or Professional Emergency Physicians, and no court date had been set.

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