300 Women Join Together In OB/GYN Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Chicago Hospital

NorthShore University Health System and Swedish Hospital refused to take action after numerous complaints of disturbing sexual behavior by an OB/GYN, according to lawsuit brought by former patients.

A Chicago hospital system faces a lawsuit brought on behalf of 300 women, claiming it enabled sexual assaults by a former OB/GYN, who ended up serving time in prison for his crimes.

The women were all patients of Fabio Ortega, who was arrested for criminal sexual assault in 2018. He pled guilty and was sentenced to prison for three years in October 2021, and walked free on October 2023, after fulfilling his parole obligations. He is now a registered sex offender and his medical license has been revoked.

In a lawsuit filed in Cook County, Illinois state court, the women say the NorthShore University Health System and Swedish Hospital turned a blind eye, and even enabled Ortega’s behavior, with staff frequently observing “disturbing” behavior toward patients. The lawsuit notes that even during the criminal investigation, Ortega was allowed to continue treating patients, some of whom say he sexually abused them as well and have joined the litigation.

Plaintiffs say Ortega abused patients for years while working at what was then known as Swedish Covenant Hospital, targeting young women, non-English speakers, and the poor and uneducated. The lawsuit claims Ortega preyed on these women, some as young as 14, because of their lack of knowledge of what should occur during a proper examination.

He was known to ask his patients probing sexual questions, made house visits, and scheduled numerous physical exams, which the lawsuit claims were often unnecessary.

Women claim that nurses and staff would brush the behavior off, telling them not to worry about unnecessary breast or pelvic exams, as that was just how Ortega treated his patients.

The lawsuit indicates that the hospitals failed to investigate patient complaints, and even when some hospital staff did report that Ortega’s behavior made them uncomfortable, nothing was done to protect future patients.

The lawsuit names Ortega and Northshore Health System as the defendants.

With Ortega having treated patients from 1989 until 2006, the number of patients who file additional sexual abuse lawsuits is expected to increase.

Gynecologist Sexual Abuse

Ortega’s case is one of several in recent years involving gynecologists who used their positions and access to female patients to perform illegal and sexually abusive acts. Many have resulted in similar sexual assault lawsuits.

In May 2018, it was disclosed that former University of Southern California gynecologist George Tyndall faced years of credible allegations that he was sexually abusing female USC students for decades, leading to hundreds of individual lawsuits filed against USC, including a number of class action claims brought to pursue damages on behalf of all women treated by the former gynecologist at the student health center. The university eventually paid more than $1 billion to settle the claims.

In May 2022, the University of California system agreed to pay nearly $375 million to resolve similar claims against former gynecologist James Heap, who worked at the UCLA campus from 1983 and 2019. More than 300 former patients indicated he sexually abused them.

Heap was charged with sexual battery of two patients in 2018.

Just last year, in May, more than 80 patients of Dr. William David Moore, who worked at the Ambulatory Care Center in Marion General Hospital and at Women’s Healthcare in Marion, Indiana, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, indicating he both sexually assaulted patients as young as 15 and as old as 73, and took unauthorized photos of them.

The Indiana State Police have asked anyone who feels they were a victim of inappropriate behavior committed by Dr. Moore to contact the Peru post at (765) 473-6666.

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