July 17, 1997 in Idaho

Retired Rexburg Doctor Named In Class Action Molestation Lawsuit

Associated Press
 

Two Idaho women have filed a federal lawsuit against a retired Rexburg doctor they claim molested them when they sought medical treatment.

Dr. LaVar Withers already faces a similar suit from a Wasatch County, Utah, woman who also alleges she was molested. The trial on Katherine C. Proctor’s complaint starts Monday in U.S. District Court in Pocatello.

In the class action suit filed Tuesday, Tee Andrew and Cindy Phillips allege Withers subjected them to “breast exams” even though they had unrelated medical problems. Andrew visited Withers complaining of a migraine headache and Phillips was suffering flue-like symptoms, according to court documents.

Withers, who was allowed to surrender his medical license in June 1995 during a state Board of Medicine investigation, maintains his innocence.

“He has said that in the past over and over again,” said Frederick Hoopes, Withers’ attorney.

A representative from Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, which also is named as a defendant in both lawsuits, refused to comment.

Withers pleaded guilty last September to one count of battery for unlawfully touching female patients. He served 30 days in jail and remains on two years of supervised probation.

The suit filed by Andrew and Phillips contends he may have molested as many as 500 women from 1965 until he retired in 1995, and asks that any other victims be allowed to join the case.

More than 100 women have contacted a rape crisis center in Idaho Falls with allegations that Withers molested them.

“We think we have a good case,” said Lowell Hawkes, one of the lawyers handling the case.

The suit also names Madison Memorial Hospital and the Rexburg Medical Center Professional Association as defendants.

Both organizations knew Withers was providing substandard care, the lawsuit contends.

In the earlier complaint, Proctor alleges Withers molested her repeatedly during a two-day stay at Madison Memorial Hospital in March 1995.

A 19-year-old Ricks College student at the time, Proctor went to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain.

During treatment, Withers fondled her breasts and touched her vagina at least five times, according to her lawsuit.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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