Cancer Patients Charge Oncology Head Sexually, Verbally Assaulted Them

Legal complaints filed by five women and one man; Women say no steps were taken after they had reported the doctor's alleged behavior to hospital administrators.

Five women who were treated for cancer at a northern Israel hospital have filed complaints against the head of the oncology unit for a series of sexual offenses they say he committed against them. A complainant has testified before police investigators that on one occasion she was raped by the doctor.

Attorney Shimon Kokush, who represents the women and one man who has also filed a complaint against the doctor, said the charges involve indecent assault, sexual harassment, the rape of a patient and attempted extortion. The women say that although they reported the doctor's alleged behavior to hospital administrators, no steps were taken about the matter.

The complaints were lodged at a police station in the north. One of the women alleges that the doctor touched her breasts unnecessarily during a medical exam and kissed her by force although she attempted to push him away. She says that such incidents took place several times. On one occasion, she says, he examined her genitals although it was unrelated to the cancer, and despite the fact that he is not a gynecologist.

She says that she did not return to the hospital for check-ups after that, and suffered severe emotional stress.

Another woman reported that the doctor behaved rudely.

"What I experienced is not in the criminal arena but rather the ethical one," she said.

She said when she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, "communication with the doctor was accompanied by verbal abuse. He would become angry and spoke in an uncouth manner to my husband when he sought to clarify something. I approached the hospital administration about this. When I was doing infusions, during chemotherapy, he asked me to undergo radiation at a different hospital than the one I requested, according to recommendations I had received." The woman said the doctor lost control and yelled at her for making the request.

"At that moment he ... yelled at me: 'You can't do what you want. Who do you think you are anyway?' He behaved very rudely to me," she said. "I had a choking feeling in my throat and wanted to cry. After all, what had I asked? It was a terrible trauma for me, and after this incident I took my file and transferred to another hospital."

"This behavior must be stopped. I hope that more women will gather up their courage and tell what happened to them," she added.

The doctor holds a senior position at the hospital and serves as an adviser to one of the country's health maintenance organizations. He and the hospital informed Haaretz yesterday that they are not permitted to respond to the charges at this time. The Civil Service Commission is investigating the matter.

Dan Even contributed to this report.