A local doctor is facing assault charges for allegedly groping a female co-worker at Union Hospital.
Dr. Bhagwan Gupta, 67, of Swampscott, has been charged with indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older and is expected to be arraigned in Lynn District Court on Dec. 22, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Gupta is a cardiologist affiliated with Union Hospital and North Shore Medical Center, part of Partners Healthcare, as a visiting staff member for approximately 38 years. He also has a private practice in Lynnfield.
An employee at his Lynnfield practice said on Wednesday that Gupta was seeing patients and would not be able to answer the phone or return a call.
The alleged victim, through her attorney, Stephen J. Lyons, filed a civil lawsuit against Gupta at Middlesex Superior Court on Tuesday, seeking damages and other relief “for personal injuries and consequential damages arising out of an indecent sexual assault and battery” committed by the doctor.
The Item does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
According to the civil complaint, the alleged sexual assault occurred Oct. 6 while the victim was working with Gupta at Union Hospital. The woman has been an employee of North Shore Medical Center for 11 years and has worked with Gupta for several years.
While the woman was working that morning, Gupta allegedly got up from his work station, walked over to her and approached her from behind, the complaint states.
“Gupta then quickly placed his arms around (the woman), putting his hands on both her breasts, forcefully groped (her) several times while violently pulling (her) toward him and pressing himself against her back and buttocks,” the complaint reads.
According to the complaint, the woman was “shocked and frightened” and physically resisted Gupta, asking him “what the hell are you doing, what are you crazy?” At that point, Gupta calmly walked away, the complaint reads.
The woman waited to report the incident because she was fearful of retaliation, that she might lose her job, because of Gupta’s “power and influence at the hospital.” She told a female co-worker about the incident, who allegedly told her that she had also been a victim of sexual assault by Gupta, that he had groped her breasts on at least two occasions, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the woman confronted Gupta about the Oct. 6 incident and then reported the incident to a trusted physician at the hospital, who agreed to act as an intermediary.
The physician reported the incident directly to the Union Hospital president and a member of the hospital’s conduct committee on the woman’s behalf on Oct. 20, but after the incident was reported, Gupta was permitted to continue to see patients and work at the hospital. Gupta was suspended several days later, after the woman contacted the Human Resources department, the complaint reads.
“North Shore Medical Center works diligently to provide a safe and supportive environment for our staff and patients and takes very seriously any allegations of sexual misconduct,” reads a statement from North Shore Medical Center.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation into the recent claim. This allegation involves a private practice physician who periodically performed diagnostic testing at our Lynn hospital facility. Upon learning of the complaint, we took immediate action to prevent the physician from further practice at our facilities while the investigation is underway. Outside of recent claims, there have been no similar complaints involving this physician made by any of our patients or employees.”
Gupta’s attorney, John P. Morris, could not be reached for comment, but told Fox25 that his client denies the indecent assault charge against him.
“The woman working at Union Hospital who made the allegations has mental health issues,” Morris told Fox25. “Dr. Gupta vehemently denies what these allegations are … Dr. Gupta is an upstanding cardiologist. He’s never had any complaints against him. He vehemently denies anything that happened between him and this woman.”
The statement from Morris to Fox25 regarding the woman’s “mental health issues” is included in the civil lawsuit, which reads it was a “defamatory statement” which was “intended to slander (her) and “hold her up to scorn and ridicule (and) to ruin her personal and professional reputation.”
The woman’s attorney claims in the lawsuit his client has suffered “severe and disabling physical injuries and mental, emotional and psychological trauma” following the alleged assault and is therefore entitled to damages.