The LA Times reports that Dr. Patrick Sutton, a noted Pasadena obstetrician, faces the suspension or loss of his license in the wake of a fifth accusation of sexual misconduct. In this fifth instance of alleged inappropriate behavior, state regulators accuse Sutton of making improper comments about a patient’s appearance and sex life. Though the previous accusations were available in public records, the Times notes that they were not previously reported in the media.
Sutton is 64, and has practiced in and around Pasadena since the late 1980s. Though he is chair-elect of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Huntington Memorial Hospital, the hospital would not reply to questions about why Sutton was permitted to continue practicing or whether he had been internally disciplined by hospital administrators following each successive report of improper or inappropriate behavior toward patients. Court and medical board records show a pattern of complaints against Dr. Sutton that date back 20 years, including allegations of improper physical contact during patient exams and pressure put on patients to provide graphic details about their sexual habits. Each of the previous cases ended in confidential settlements that excluded any admissions of guilt or responsibility.
As the Times report further notes, “The medical board investigated and accused Sutton in 2002 of gross negligence and sexual misconduct for ‘needlessly and inappropriately sexualizing [a patient’s] physical examination.’ He reached a settlement under which he admitted to another charge involving a different patient — failure to keep and maintain adequate and accurate records — and was placed on probation for four years. The agreement required him to have a third party chaperone exams whenever a patient was not fully clothed and to take a class on maintaining professional boundaries.” Then, while still on probation in 2005, a sexual battery and harassment lawsuit was filed against Sutton by two patients relating to his conduct during office visits. The suit was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount, and the file for that case was destroyed by the California Superior Court in 2016. Further complaints and settlements followed in the ensuing years, culminating in these most recent allegations.
When the medical board was asked why Sutton did not lose his license after the ongoing series of accusations, it indicated that state law requires that wherever possible, the board take action that “is calculated to aid in the rehabilitation of the doctor.”
Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser represents plaintiffs who have suffered violence, abuse, and harassment. You can call Annika K. Martin at 1 800 541-7358 or send her a direct email. There is no charge or obligation for your outreach, and all information will be held in the strictest confidence.