Investigator: Complaints against Dr. for sexual abuse skyrocket

7:55 AM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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The complaints piling up against Dr. James Bressi for the alleged sexual abuse against his female patients have reached unprecedented numbers.

At least 122 women have come forward in what may be one of the biggest cases of sexual misconduct by a doctor in Ohio.

Some people wonder if some of the abuse could have been prevented, especially since the initial complaints about Dr. James Bressi, working at Summit Pain Specialists, were made 15 months ago.

He was not asked to resign from his post by his partners in the clinic until March.

In August, he was indicted by the Summit County prosecutor on 23 counts of sexual assault, including a rape charge.

The Rape Crisis Center of Medina & Summit Counties has been getting calls on its hotline about his behavior with patients for a couple of years, says director Dana Zedak.

At first, the calls did not name Bressi -- they merely referred to a doctor in the local community who practiced in the field of pain management.

Not until this spring did some of his victims calling the hotline mention his name.

After Channel 3 broke the Bressi story in July, the rape crisis center began getting a 60 percent to 70 percent increase in daily calls -- all from Bressi victims, says Zedak.

To Channel 3, victims described behavior like his sticking his hands in their underpants or rubbing up against them with an erection and masturbating against their bodies.

One woman's husband caught him violating her with his hands while she was under sedation.

It appears that Bressi got away with his alleged abusive behavior for a long time and Sondra Miller, the president and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, explains how that can happen.

"Physicians have a role in the community where they have a lot of trust and a lot of control over people who are in a vulnerable state," she says. "Patients can be vulnerable in a lot of ways.

"They could be completely incapacitated for surgery, they could be undressed, and they are revealing very personal and intimate things to a doctor."

Not only do doctors command positions of respect in the community, there also can be a culture of silence in the medical community.

Doctors are not likely to snitch on fellow doctors who are behaving badly. Nor do the managers of the hospitals that doctors work for encourage outside reporting of what is illegal behavior.

One victim -- there may have been others -- did report Bressi's behavior to the clinic where he worked in June 2012. That clinic is managed by Dr. Robert Geiger, and she says Geiger assured her that he would take care of the matter and that Bressi was being put on notice.

But Bressi continued to work there for the next nine months -- and during that time, more women complained they were abused in his examining room.

Geiger has refused to comment.

Bressi has denied the allegations.  

His medical license is under suspension by the state medical board. A date for a hearing has not been scheduled.        

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