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Lawsuit: Chicago-area Doctor Sexually Abused Hundreds of Women, Hospital Failed to Warn Patients

— March 29, 2024

The lawsuit claims that several hospitals associated with former Dr. Fabio Ortega failed to do their due diligence in investigating patient complaints, which date as far back as 1989.

A recently-filed lawsuit claims that two prominent Chicago-area hospitals failed to take disciplinary against an OB-GYN who had been repeatedly accused of sexually abusing his patients.

According to NBC News, the lawsuit is the latest development against Fabio Ortega, a 77-year-old former physician who in 2021 pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of two patients.

The complaint, filed on behalf of one of the two women, alleges that staff members at NorthShore Medical Group and Swedish Covenant Hospital—both of which are now operated by Endeavor Health—deliberately concealed reports of Ortega’s misconduct in the years preceding his criminal conviction.

“Women reported. They reported again and again and again,” Stiner Gould Grieco & Hensley attorney Symone Shinton said in a press conference. “They were told to question their very experiences as women. They were told that the very abuse that they complained about was medically necessary and normal.”

The lawsuit—filed on behalf of a plaintiff identified only by the pseudonym “Jane Doe 300”—details allegations of sexual abuse reported as early as 1989.

Attorneys say that, while Ortega may have victimized hundreds of women between 1989 and his 2021 conviction, he likely sought to minimize the possibility of detection by preying on undocumented immigrants and other persons unlikely to question his unethical practices.

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“[…] Ortega was a sexual predator who targeted young women who did not have experience with gynecological examinations, Spanish-speaking patients, pregnant women, Medicare patients, and the undeserved patient population because he knew that patients from these populations were less likely to understand that they were being sexually abused,” the lawsuit alleges.

In 1989, for instance, Ortega had apparently performed “unnecessary pelvic exams” and asked his “patients intrusive questions about their sex life.” And, more recently, a 40-year-old woman said that Ortega attempted to use his fingers to “stimulate” her and “asked her questions including but not limited to, whether she was satisfied with her sex life and if she had anal sex.”

Jane Doe 300, who visited Ortega’s office twice in 2017 while pregnant, said that the former OB-GYN assaulted her “under the guise of performing ‘vaginal examinations.’”

Doe 300, adds NBC News, was one of Ortega’s last patients before he was arrested.

But when Doe 300’s husband asked why the family was being assigned a new physician in the middle of Doe 300’s pregnancy, NorthShore staff simply said that the Ortega was “unavailable.”

The hospital, attorneys now say, deliberately “withheld its knowledge that Ortega was then the subject of a criminal investigation for sexually abusing his patients.”

Although numerous patients complained of Ortega’s misconduct—with one woman filing a report with the Chicago Police Department in 2004—the defendants allegedly failed to take substantive action, with Ortega remaining in his position for at least another decade.

Parker Stinar, a founding partner of the firm leading the lawsuit, said he expects that more women will join the claim as plaintiffs. He also said that his team is not currently planning to propose class-action litigation, since any eventual award could result in inequitable payments.

“How could you say that Jane Doe One’s damages for sex abuse are the same as Jane Doe Two?” Stinar said. “Everyone experiences, at the time, physically, emotionally, and different lifelong traumas. They can’t be lumped together.”

[writer’s note: some sources, including CBS News, indicate that up to 300 women have already “joined” the lawsuit]


300 women join lawsuit filed against Chicago-area health system after gynecologist accused of sexual abuse

Lawsuit accuses Chicago doctor of abusing more than 300 women over decades

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