$23M Sexual Assault Settlement Reached Over Claims WV Doctor Molested 2,500 Women Under Anesthesia

The Charleston Area Medical Center has agreed to pay $23 million to settle allegations of sexual assault during medical treatments, resolving claims brought by 2,500 women who indicate they were molested while under anesthesia.

The attacks occurred during colonoscopy procedures at the West Virginia medical center, when former gastroenterologist Steven Matulis allegedly fondled the breasts and vaginas of helpless patients. After charges were originally brought by a former patient in April 2016, Matulis was later convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and sentenced to five years in prison.

Last week, Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey approved the sexual assault settlement, which resolves a class action claim brought against Charleston Area Medical Center, for failing to prevent female patients from being molested and abused while under anesthesia.

In court, nurses and technicians testified against Matulis, saying they would put a star next to the names of patients they feared Matulis would target for sexual abuse. He would then molest those patients, claiming he was cleaning them after their colonoscopy procedure. The employees said he was the only doctor to clean patients after such procedures.

The employees also said he harassed female employees, asking what sex acts they performed and commenting on their breasts.

The court released a claims form (PDF) for participants in the class action to be a part of the settlement or opt out. Plaintiffs’ attorneys say only nine women have chosen not to participate in the settlement agreement. It applies to women who were patients treated by Matulis at the hospital’s endoscopic suite, who received a colonoscopy between 2010 and 2016. Each woman is expected to receive about $5,000 from the settlement agreement.

Other claims against the hospital are allowed in the settlement agreement if more women step forward, with a cap of up to an additional $30 million. Judge Bailey indicated further settlement details will be hammered out at a hearing scheduled for September 9.

This agreement is separate from a previous $890,000 settlement which involved Matulis, the Charleston Day Surgery Center, and 372 patients. That settlement was also approved by Judge Bailey.

Additional cases are still pending against Matulis and the hospital.

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  • KellyDecember 21, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    Received some penalties check regarding this lawsuit but not for the $5,000. Can someone explain?

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