M. went to the health center in Padrón (A Coruña) with diarrhea and vaginal fungus on August 18, 2020. His doctor was not there, a fellow veteran attended him.
He told her to lie down on the stretcher and undress.
According to the patient's account, the doctor "abruptly" lowered her panties and without warning.
Without giving any explanation and without even putting on gloves, he assures that she inserted her fingers into his vagina.
She did "a lot of damage," says the complainant, because she suffers from vaginal atrophy.
She unsuccessfully asked him to stop.
She did not take any samples or perform any cultures, as stated in the judicial investigation that ended up being opened at the end of 2021 and that has uncovered more complaints from women who felt harassed and violated by this doctor.
That day, M. went home dragging her anguish and never formally filed a claim.
She told his family doctor about the episode when she returned to her post, and also an administration worker at the outpatient clinic.
She considered filing a complaint with the Galician Health Service (Sergas), but a piece of information discouraged her: both acknowledged that the complaint "would pass through the hands" of the doctor designated as "the director of the health center."
Today the doctor in question is being investigated for sexual abuse with carnal access by the investigating court number 2 of Padrón after the complaint by M. and another patient.
This is a historic manager of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians in Galicia (Semergen), Andrés Soto-Jove Bernaldo de Quirós, who resigned from his position after the imputation.
M. has been receiving psychological treatment since October 2021 for the “traumatic” situation that he experienced in that medical consultation, as proven in the judicial summary.
"The symptoms that she describes are coherent with the account that she makes of the experience and the treatment received," certifies her psychologist.
The complainant explains that she ended up taking her case to justice because she began to hear episodes similar to hers that spread by word of mouth in the region with the same doctor as the protagonist.
She found out that another patient who left a consultation crying had filed a claim with Sergas and then she decided to declare and incorporate her story into that administrative file.
She also came across a publication on social networks in which another user reported a consultation in which she had felt harassed by the doctor.
Ángel Corpa: "To say that there is the same censorship as with Franco is stupid"
The disciplinary file that Sergas initiated against Soto-Jove in May 2021 for the claim of the latter woman was not finally resolved.
On the way, the legal case started and had to be interrupted.
But the Sergas inspector who instructed him did sign a resolution proposal, which even uncovered a third case that dates back to 2019. In the doctor's behavior with those three patients, he appreciated four faults: one very serious and three serious.
For all of them she proposed a punishment of 4 years and 11 months of suspension from duties.
In the conclusions of her investigation and applying the law that since 2003 regulates the statute of health personnel in Galicia, the Sergas inspector considers that Soto-Jove committed a "serious assault" when she inserted her bare fingers into M's vagina. and in a "concealment, consent or collaboration" with that offense when he did not record in his medical history "the notes corresponding to the assistance he provided."
With the other woman who has gone to court, she committed "serious disregard," says the inspector, which she also incurred during seven other consultations in 2019 and 2020 with a third patient that she has testified as a witness.
The official has already ratified her conclusions before the judge investigating the case.
The Ministry of Health has avoided answering the questions of this newspaper because it is a "judicialized" case.
The department of the Xunta has avoided clarifying whether the doctor continues to practice at Sergas and has not wanted to explain why he ignored in his report before the court at least the claim of another patient who has testified before the judge.
Another of the questions that Sanidade has declined to answer is whether it plans to change the protocols to protect patients who want to report similar behaviors, after the fear that M. felt when she considered filing a claim.
“The Administration must change its attitude and encourage the filing of complaints, not make them invisible;
the system has to be more direct and anonymous”, say sources from the Mulleres feminist association in Padrón,
Concentration in support of the complainants on the day of their judicial declaration in Padrón last May, in an image provided by Mulleres in Padrón.
Touches with "agitated" breathing
The second Soto-Jove patient to go to court is A. On September 2, 2020, she went to his office at the Padrón health center with diarrhea.
The doctor asked her to lie down on the stretcher and pull down her pants and underwear.
She did so, exposing her abdomen, but it was not enough for the doctor.
According to her complaint, without asking for her permission or notifying her, the doctor "abruptly" lowered her panties and, "with different, agitated breathing," she began to "pat his pubis."
Also without warning, adds the patient, she lifted up her shirt and put her hand inside her bra to feel her breasts.
Then, without her pulling her clothes back up, he made her jump across the office.
The next day, A. filed a claim at the clinic itself.
"I am not a doctor and I do not know what an examination of supposed diarrhea is like," he wrote in his complaint, "what I do know is that this man made me feel very bad, to the point of leaving the office crying."
Soto-Jove argued that the patient "at no time" had complained about the examination and that she does not remember "she leaving the consultation in tears."
The disciplinary file that uncovered other cases was derived from that complaint.
The lawyer for the two complainants, Enrique León, sees a common "modus operandi" in the dozen episodes that he says he has heard so far from patients who felt violated by the investigated doctor.
Only five of those affected have also been heard by the judge because the rest have not wanted to testify in court.
Both the complainants and the witnesses who have done so, emphasizes the lawyer, are women "who do not know each other, from different generations, from different backgrounds, but tell very similar stories of humiliating treatment, of touching that is not reported or explained, and of underwear that the investigated lowers with his own hands, when he wants and how he wants”.
The lawyer of the investigated doctor, Evaristo Nogueira, maintains that in the conduct of his defendant "there is no type of crime."
"They may like the forms more or less, that is subjective, but from the criminal point of view the matter has no route," defends the lawyer, who affirms that "the praxis was adequate."
The judicial investigation is pending the forensic report commissioned by the judge to establish whether or not the medical performance of the investigated person "is adjusted to the
", that is, to the standards of the profession.
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