‘Don’t let him touch me’: 83 women say Provo OB-GYN sexually abused them

Provo police are also investigating the doctor, according to public records requests.

(Rachel Rydalch | The Salt Lake Tribune) The 4th District Courthouse in Provo, Wednesday, March 16, 2022. There are now 83 women suing a Provo OB-GYN, alleging him harmed them over a 40 year span.

Lying in her hospital bed at Utah Valley Hospital in 2010, a woman panicked when she saw the doctor who would be delivering her baby.

“Don’t let him touch me,” the woman said she begged her husband and the nurse.

Three weeks earlier, while working as a nurse at Timpanogos Regional Hospital, that same woman said she had witnessed Dr. David H. Broadbent ignore the cries and pain of another woman getting ready to give birth. The situation disturbed her so much, she said, she warned Broadbent she would report him to the chief of the obstetrics department if it happened again.

At Utah Valley, the woman quickly pushed and gave birth to her own son. Broadbent then told her “he had to manually remove her placenta,” she said, causing her “extreme pain.” After that, he “stripped off his bloody gloves and gown, threw them on her patient bedside table, and asked [her] if she was going to write him up,” a new lawsuit that includes her account alleges.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe T.A., is now one of 83 women suing Broadbent in 4th District Court, claiming that he sexually battered and abused them while he was their OB-GYN over roughly 40 years.

Meanwhile, Provo Police Department has 12 active cases pending related to Broadbent, The Salt Lake Tribune learned through a recent public records request. Police declined to release any initial reports or additional information, citing the ongoing investigations.

A lawsuit was originally filed against the OB-GYN in February by four Jane Does who connected after one of them shared her experience on a podcast in December. In the weeks after, 46 more women signed on to the lawsuit. On Tuesday, 33 additional Jane Does filed a second lawsuit against Broadbent.

Together, these women — identified in court documents as Jane Does and by their initials — recount similar experiences and allege that what Broadbent did to them was not “medically necessary,” but instead was “performed for no other reason than his own sexual gratification,” according to the complaints.

Broadbent’s attorney, David C. Epperson, did not respond to requests for comment Friday. In March, he told The Tribune: “Dr. Broadbent categorically denies all of the allegations of wrongdoing that are asserted in this lawsuit. Medical ethics prevent Dr. Broadbent from saying anything more, but he believes that time will prove that the charges in this lawsuit have no basis.”

Broadbent and the other defendants in the lawsuits — Intermountain Healthcare, Utah Valley Hospital, MountainStar Healthcare, and HCA Healthcare — have filed motions asking that a judge dismiss the original suit against them. They argue that the women should have taken procedural steps required by the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act before suing, according to court records.

The Jane Does’ attorneys from the Salt Lake City firm Gross & Rooney rejected that argument, saying “Sexual abuse is not health care.”

“Broadbent’s acts” are “deserving of an orange jumpsuit, not the protection of a white coat,” according to their response filed Friday.

‘Disgusted’ and ‘vulnerable’

The Jane Does in the two lawsuits say they were Broadbent’s patients from 1979 to 2022, and their experiences with the doctor left them feeling “ashamed,” “embarrassed,” “disgusted” and “vulnerable,” court records said. One woman said she “felt like she was raped — like she did not have a say in what happened to her body with a doctor in whom she placed her trust.”

Broadbent’s office is located on University Avenue in Provo, according to the complaints, close to “thousands of young women” at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University “with little or no prior experience with OB/GYN appointments — who had no understanding of what was ‘normal’ or medically necessary.”

When Jane Doe I.A. switched doctors in 2021, she “immediately realized how much harm Broadbent caused,” according to the complaint. Her new OB-GYN “explained everything, made her feel comfortable, let her know she was in control and did not touch her in the ways Broadbent did,” according to court records.

The women allege that Broadbent inappropriately touched their breasts, vaginas and rectums, causing pain, without warning or explanation. Some said the doctor did not use a speculum or gloves during exams.

When the husband of one of the Jane Does questioned what Broadbent was doing, “Broadbent angrily asked him if he was a doctor,” the new suit alleges. He reportedly told another woman who asked questions, “It’s procedure.” One Jane Doe said she thought what happened “must be normal because if anything was off, the nurses in the room would have said something.”

Multiple women said in the suit that Broadbent’s comments made them uncomfortable. Jane Doe J.A. said that when Broadbent noticed her sister was recording her giving birth, he said, “So, you’re the lucky one filming this porn.”

Jane Doe R.B. said she saw Broadbent in 2015 about heavy menstrual bleeding. At one point, the complaint states, Broadbent told an assistant, “You can tell she is a virgin by the way she acts when this happens,” before putting his fingers in her genital area and causing her pain.

“The nurse just rolled her eyes, asked if he was done then quickly left,” according to the suit.

During one of her visits to his office, “Broadbent stood so close while handling Jane Doe A.E.’s breasts that she could see he was having an erection through his scrubs,” the complaint states. She “did not know what to do” and “was frozen,” the suit said.

Jane Doe C.T. said that as Broadbent examined her, he made “grunting and moaning noises,” according to the suit. She told him to stop and “hoped someone outside the room would hear her,” the complaint states, “but Broadbent continued and became louder and more aggressive.”

“Jane Doe C.T. finally reached down and grabbed his arm” and “said that is enough,” according to the lawsuit. Broadbent then told her, “I’ll see you later” and walked out. When Jane Doe C.T. left, she “asked the staff if any of them heard her crying out, and they said no,” the suit said.

How complaints are handled

In 1990, Broadbent’s medical license was placed on probation for a year after he “exercised poor judgment” in performing liposuction surgery on two patients, according to documents from Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

No disciplinary actions were listed Friday for Broadbent on the division’s website. Zach Whitney, a spokesperson, said he could not confirm whether the division had received any complaints against the doctor.

But the women’s attorneys told The Tribune Wednesday that their clients have filed complaints about Broadbent. And the lawsuit alleges that “formal complaints made it all the way to the chief administrator and chief medical officer at Utah Valley Hospital.”

Generally, when a complaint is submitted, Whitney said, the Division of Occupational and Processional Licensing reviews it to make sure it relates to a statute the division can enforce, and that there is enough information to allow them to investigate. If the complaint doesn’t meet these requirements, it may be closed or referred to another agency, he said.

Otherwise, the complaint is assigned to an investigator, who does a review. Similar to a law enforcement investigation, the investigator may reach out to the person the complaint is about or talk with other witnesses, according to Whitney.

“If there’s some merit,” he said, the “administrative action process” begins, which includes a citation and a hearing. “The license holder has a chance to respond,” Whitney said, before an administrative law judge would decide what happens.

“Many times, our investigators will try and resolve complaints before it reaches that point,” he said. That may mean issuing a warning, or the accused person agrees to limitations on their license while they work through the complaint, he said.

The division tries to finish cases in 90 days, but it can take longer if the situation is complicated, according to Whitney. An emergency process available if there is “an immediate and significant danger to the public health, safety or welfare” that “requires immediate action,” according to state law.

“We probably see maybe two or three of those a year,” Whitney said.

After submitting a complaint, a person is not updated on the outcome of the case, Whitney said. That’s partly because “there’s not really a process in place to do that,” he said, and also because of the workload. A complaint is entered into an internal database, though, to look for patterns of behavior.

“The complaints themselves are exempt from public record,” Whitney said, “mostly because they are being used in an investigation. And so they ... only become a public record if that complaint results in administrative action.”

Whitney added, “It’s a way to protect the innocent until they’re found guilty.”

It is important for the public to remember that criminal investigations are separate from license investigations, he said.

“We always are encouraging people that if they have a complaint about a licensed professional, that they report it,” Whitney said. “And that way we can do the proper investigation to see if there is merit for taking away that license.”

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.