West Virginia Doctor faces 135 years in prison for allegedly touching patients' breasts and genitalia while they were unconscious
Gastroenterologist Steven Matulis has been accused of touching the breasts and vaginas of four female patients while they were unconscious under his care
A West Virginia doctor is currently on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting and abusing patients while they were unconscious under his care. Gastroenterologist Dr. Steven Matulis is accused of inappropriately touching the breasts and genitals of female patients while performing colonoscopies.
According to the Daily Mail, witnesses against Matulis at the trial include the patients whom he assaulted, as well as hospital administrators, surgical technicians, and nurses, who all testified that they were in the rooms when he assaulted the victims.
The comments of one of those witnesses, surgical technician David Mullins, was reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Mullins testified against Matulis for an incident where the doctor inappropriately touched the patient while she was unconscious.
He said that Matulis conducted a vaginal exam without having announced it previously, a practice that is considered common amongst doctors. He testified that he wanted to confront the gastroenterologist about what had happened, but thought better of it because Matulis was a "high-level physician" and he was "the low man on the totem pole."
However, he said he changed his mind after he ran into the patient after the procedure. "When I turned the corner much to my surprise I saw the patient ... and she smiled and I believe she said thank you,” Mullins said. “I felt extreme shame; like I had failed her."
He went on to report Matulis for touching a patient's breast and inserting his finger in her vagina while she was unconscious.
Another witness, CRNA Crystal Hale, said she was in "complete shock" when she saw Matulis touch one of the patient's breasts. "It's totally inappropriate for a GI doctor to touch a woman's breast," she said, adding how she had thrown her hands up in the hair and used a "choice word" when she saw it.
Speaking in the court, Putnam Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia launched a scathing attack against the gastroenterologist. "This case is about a violation of trust," he said. "That sacred trust has not been violated on one or two occasions, but four."
Defense attorney Greg Haddad, however, had a different view to things, stating how it needed to be proven that Matulis carried out those acts for his own sexual gratification. "This is a misunderstanding of technicians that do their job that do not understand the medicine, and do not understand how to do [the procedures]," he said. "It's fine for them to raise a concern but it is deficient in terms of proving it was done."
Matulis has been charged with seven felonies, including four counts of sexual assault in the second degree and one count of sexual abuse. If convicted, he faces up to 135 years in prison.