Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.

A female patient who was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a doctor associated with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital has filed a lawsuit claiming the hospital and its affiliates failed to protect her and properly monitor the doctor’s Newmarket office, where the assaults occurred before his arrest in an undercover police sting.

The victim’s case against the hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Physician Corp. comes a year after Dr. Hugh MacDonald was sentenced to 5-10 years in state prison for sexually assaulting the woman in 2018.

MacDonald, 59, of Newfields, pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault for three incidents that occurred at his Newmarket office in March and April 2018.

According to the suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court, MacDonald became the victim’s primary care physician in 2015 through his office at Great Bay Family Practice, which is part of Wentworth-Douglass Physician Corp.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages. Among other things, it accuses the Dover hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Physician Corp. of negligence for failing to supervise MacDonald, provide and monitor an adequate surveillance system and properly train and supervise employees.

Hospital spokeswoman Dawn Fernald said she could not comment on the case.

The victim, who is an adult but was described as “child-like” by investigators, had a history of physical, psychological and sexual abuse as a young child and suffered emotional problems as a result, the suit said.

A county prosecutor painted MacDonald as a trusted primary care physician who preyed on a vulnerable patient and had called her to come to his office after hours.

MacDonald and other employees were aware of the victim’s history, and when she first became a patient, a nurse, medical assistant or staff member served as a chaperone for her protection during physical exams, the suit said.

The sexual assaults began after the chaperoning was eventually stopped by MacDonald and Great Bay Family Practice, the suit said.

“Over the course of her treatment at GBFP, Dr. MacDonald methodically manipulated, controlled, and groomed the plaintiff, first by breaking down verbal boundaries through inappropriate conversations before moving onto sexual assaults, molestations and rapes all supposedly as part of medical treatment at GBFP,” said the suit, filed through the Portsmouth law firm Boynton, Waldron, Doleac, Woodman & Scott, P.A.

Newmarket police began investigating MacDonald after the victim disclosed the nature of her “medical treatments” to a psychotherapist in April 2018. The information was relayed to investigators, who set up an undercover operation and wired the victim to catch him in the act during an appointment.

The suit said MacDonald’s office had a security system and that security logs showed him returning to the office several hours after it was closed when no one else was around.

MacDonald’s “unusual appearances at the GBFP office from at least March and April of 2018 documented unusual, irregular and suspicious activity on the logs,” the suit said.

During the after-hours assaults, the suit said, MacDonald disengaged the security system using his security code and then checked the building to make sure no one was watching, monitoring or investigating the office before he and the victim left.

The suit claims there was no “reasonable supervision by GBFP or the hospital.”

After MacDonald’s arrest, the victim was assigned a new primary care physician, who is female. She contacted the hospital in October 2018 to ask if she could see a new doctor in a different office but claims she was told that she had to continue treatment at Great Bay Family Practice and was given no alternatives.

While she once again has a nurse or other chaperone present during examinations, the suit said the victim continues to visit the “very office where she was raped, sexually assaulted, abused, harmed and molested.”

Monday, October 19, 2020
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