News

Attorney says FWay doctor deliberately hurt patients

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

A Seattle attorney has filed 30 civil lawsuits from women who have accused Federal Way gynecologist Charles Momah, 47, of negligence in his care of them, sexually assaulting or harassing them, keeping them from their medical records and performing unnecessary surgeries, some of which put them in serious medical peril and left lifelong scarring.

Attorney Harish Bharti said he expects as many as 20 more women to join the suits.

The Department of Health suspended Momah’s license earlier this month.

Bharti said is more angry with the state Department of Health than he is the doctor he alleges deliberately hurt his patients so they would have to come back for follow-up care, prescription medications and more victimization.

The state, Bharti said, allowed Momah to continue practicing for 10 years despite allegations he had injured and abused several of his female patients when he practiced in New York. Because of that, Bharti’s going after the state in this case, even considering filing a class action suit on behalf of his clients.

“Someday I’ll forgive this doctor, but as long as I live, I’ll never forgive the Department of Health,” he said. “These guys did nothing and now they’re making nonsense excuses. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Momah, who waived his right to a prompt Department of Health hearing, will appear before a board of medical professionals Dec. 1 to determine whether he can keep his license and continue to practice medicine in Washington.

Momah is a physician at the Northwest Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility, with offices in Federal Way and Burien.

Bharti alleges Momah was a serial rapist who deliberately injured his patients during questionable surgeries in order to keep them coming back to him for follow-up medical visits and painkillers.

Momah’s attorney in the civil suits, Kathryn Barron, couldn’t be reached for comment, but his criminal defense lawyer, David Allen, told a local newspaper Momah is innocent of the charges.

During visits to his office, the women alleged, Momah would ask them for sex, particularly three-way sex, and he withheld their medical records so they couldn’t seek care somewhere else. The women alleged Momah never had another person in the rooms with them during pelvic exams.

“Everybody got unnecessary surgeries and procedures, everybody got vaginal probes,” Bharti said. “He’d ask almost everyone to have sex with him.”

One of the plaintiffs, Jolie Campbell, said Momah performed 13 unnecessary surgeries on her and performed more unnecessary procedures than she could count, according to court documents.

As a result, she said she sustained permanent, painful scarring, for which Momah had been prescribing her addictive painkillers, including Percoset, Percodan, Valium, Demerol and others.

While she was seeing him for medical care, Momah began pressuring her to have three-way sex with her sister, she told Bharti. In July 2000, she said, Momah raped her. Campbell is one of three women who have accused Momah of rape.

When Momah’s patients called the Department of Health to report him or to get help, Bharti said Department of Health staff made his clients feel stupid, which discouraged them from further action against the doctor. In some cases, he said, staff said they’d send forms for the women to fill out that arrived months later, if at all.

Bharti said he holds the Department of Health accountable for its failure to help Momah’s alleged victims.

“There are all kinds of serial rapists all over the place,” he said. “Why in the hell did the Department of Health allow him to continue practicing? This is the United States. We’re supposed to be a leader in the rights of women.”

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