Gynecologist Accused Of Molestation
AP, CNN.com, June 4
SEATTLE, Washington (AP) — Dozens of women have sued a gynecologist, saying he performed unnecessary and painful surgeries, molested them and in some cases raped them in the exam room.
In 44 lawsuits, former patients say Dr. Charles Momah fondled their breasts and genitals, and frequently penetrated them with a vaginal ultrasound probe that gynecologists rarely use.
The lawsuits also allege Momah got the women hooked on heavy painkillers such as Vicodin, Percoset and morphine, and used their addiction to manipulate them, threatening to stop their prescriptions if they reported sexual abuse. He also told the women no one would believe the reports because they were drug addicts, according to the lawsuits.
Some women allege Momah even allowed his identical twin, Dr. Dennis Momah, to impersonate him and “examine” patients.
“Dr. Momah’s Little Shop of Horrors” is what MiKell Bannach calls his Seattle clinic.
“God, how could I have been so stupid? He kept saying, ‘You have to trust me,”’ Bannach, 42, said in an interview with The Associated Press. Bannach’s lawsuit alleges Momah molested her and botched her tubal ligation reversal surgery.
Charles Momah’s attorney, David Allen, says his client is innocent and will fight the allegations. Both brothers are named in the lawsuits, but neither has been charged with any crime.
Charles Momah is no longer practicing. The state suspended his license in September, after a quick investigation into the rape complaints. The Health Department investigated his brother and cleared him of wrongdoing.
Two prosecutors have been investigating the case since October. Prosecution spokesman Dan Donohoe said his office is taking the case seriously, and he expects a decision on charges within a few weeks.
Momah, 47, grew up in Nigeria and trained there and in Canada. In 1993, after working in New York and Georgia, Momah moved to Washington state and opened clinics in two Seattle suburbs.
The women allege he used his size — 6 feet, 2 inches and more than 300 pounds — to intimidate them.
Daleena Rollins was happy to find a doctor who accepted her Medicaid coupons when she first visited Momah in 1995. But she said she could tell right away something was strange in his office.
She said the exam table was pushed into one corner of the room, so when she lay there she was boxed in by the doctor. She said Momah ripped open the paper vest she wore so she was totally naked, and performed a pelvic and breast exam on her simultaneously.
“You’re raised your whole entire life from birth to trust the doctor,” said Rollins, 32. “When it’s a doctor, it’s just different.”
Rollins’ recollection of Momah’s exam style matches the descriptions in dozens of the women’s civil lawsuits.
Rollins said she complained in writing about Momah to the state Department of Health, but never heard back. Several other women also say in court documents that they contacted the agency.
Health Department spokesman Tim Church said none of those complaints ever reached the agency until August 13, 2003. The agency investigated immediately, Church said, and suspended Momah’s license on September 11. The department scheduled hearings on whether to take away Momah’s license permanently, but that process is on hold until the criminal investigation ends.
Attempts to reach Momah were unsuccessful. His office phone number has been disconnected, and his home phone number rang unanswered. The house at his last known address in Bellevue appeared deserted, and no one answered the door there.
A man who answered the phone at his brother’s apartment said Dennis Momah could not be reached there. He is still licensed to practice in the state.