Following an after-hours pelvic exam, this UVU nurse was quietly asked to resign

In total, four women have reported Derrick Pickering to law enforcement. He has filed a defamation countersuit against one woman, saying she falsely accused him to boost her career as a social media “influencer.”

(AP Photo | Rick Bowmer) This Nov. 14, 2019, photo shows the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

By the time nurse practitioner Derrick Pickering left his six-year job in Utah Valley University’s student clinic, two patients had reported him to campus police: One alleged he touched her inappropriately, while a second said she felt he pressured her into having an unnecessary pelvic exam.

But those reports did not lead to any disciplinary action, according to an open records request to the university. The reason he left the job in February 2021 — revealed in a newly unsealed search warrant — is because campus administrators asked him to resign after he performed a pelvic examination after hours without a medical assistant present.

The university did not fire Pickering, however. And it doesn’t appear that university officials ever reported the nurse practitioner to licensing officials.

That meant his care went unscrutinized, and that his patients — and possibly future employers — were left unaware questions had been raised about it. And in the three years since he left UVU, he has twice more been accused of inappropriately touching patients — these times while conducting cosmetic procedures at Belle Medical’s Draper location.

Pickering was the subject of a February Salt Lake Tribune investigative report, which detailed how these four women went to police but officers were dismissive of the early disclosures, records show — either not fully investigating or telling the first three women they were not describing criminal misconduct.

The affidavit that supported the request for a search warrant, which was unsealed in March, is part of Draper police’s current investigation after a fourth woman reported Pickering.

A Draper detective requested two warrants in order to access Pickering’s personnel records and the women’s medical records at UVU and Belle Medical, according to the affidavit. The filing also detailed the detective’s efforts to interview each of the four women, as well as one of Pickering’s former coworkers at UVU. That coworker told police that she knew medical assistants who had refused to work with Pickering because they felt he made patients uncomfortable.

That affidavit also revealed publicly for the first time that Pickering was asked to resign from his UVU job because he conducted an after-hours pelvic exam with no medical assistant present.

Scott Trotter, a spokesperson for Utah Valley University, did not answer a list of questions emailed to him about Pickering, including a question about whether UVU officials ever reported him to licensers.

“While we know there are questions,” Trotter said in a statement, “we do not comment on police reports or personnel matters to follow federal law and respect the privacy of all those involved.”

Police records and information from Pickering’s attorney indicate that the Division of Professional Licensing has received only one complaint about Pickering, lodged by the second woman who reported him to police. DOPL officials do not confirm or deny whether they’ve received complaints against a licensed professional unless they take disciplinary action.

Pickering has not been charged with a crime, and his license is in good standing with DOPL. Steve Owens, Pickering’s attorney, said the nurse practitioner “has never sexually touched any patient ever.”

Owens confirmed that Pickering was asked to leave his UVU job, explaining that the resignation came after he removed a patient’s IUD without a medical assistant in the room. The attorney said the woman’s husband was present during the procedure, which he said the patient requested because of “severe and potentially life-threatening side effects” of the IUD. The attorney said Pickering tried to reschedule the appointment because his medical assistant had called out sick that day, but went forward with the procedure with the woman’s husband in the room acting as a chaperone.

“Derrick believes the exam occurred while the clinic was still open,” Owens said. “Both patient and husband signed consent forms. The patient continues to see Derrick as her primary care provider.”

Pickering denies any inappropriate conduct, Owens said, but was asked to resign from the job because a medical assistant was not present during the IUD removal.

The first report to police

The search warrant affidavit also gives more detail about the experience of the first woman who reported Pickering to police — details that were not previously public because UVU police officials won’t release the entire police report while Draper police investigate.

A Draper detective wrote in the affidavit that she interviewed the former student in November with the help of a Korean translator. That student, identified as J.Y. in the police record, told the detective that she moved from Korea to Utah in 2015 to study at UVU.

She went to the student clinic in September 2015, she told the detective, because she had symptoms of a bladder infection.

“J.Y. said during the appointment Derrick asked questions about sexual diseases, which she described as ‘not related’ to the symptoms of the bladder infection,” the detective wrote. “She said she had these types of infections previously when she was in Korea, and was given antibiotics to treat the infection and advised to drink fluids. She said that in all the doctor visits she had been to with this issue the doctors ‘never touched my body.’”

But J.Y. described to the detective how she said Pickering asked her to lie down, and then lifted her shirt and pushed around her belly button. The affidavit says J.Y. said Pickering, who wasn’t wearing medical gloves, then lifted up her underwear and touched her pubic area.

J.Y. had a friend in the room with her to help translate, she told the detective, and said that while he had “turned around during the exam for privacy,” he glanced over and saw what happened during the exam. She said he encouraged her to make the report to the police.

But her report didn’t go far — a UVU police officer wrote in a police report that he was unable to contact the alleged victim and closed the case, concluding it was a “misunderstanding due to cultural differences.”

Owens, Pickering’s attorney, denied that the nurse practitioner did anything wrong during that exam.

“Derrick knows he did not touch J.Y.’s pubic area,” Owens said, adding that he assessed her bladder — which is above the pubic bone — with his hands by palpation and percussion. He confirmed Pickering didn’t wear gloves, Owens said, adding that “it is common for practitioners not to wear gloves for this type of examination.”

Owens said J.Y.’s care was investigated by the UVU Equity and Title IX Office and campus police years ago and they “found no wrongdoing.” He added: “J.Y. did not even meet with the police.”

More reports to police

Less than a year after J.Y.’s report, C.C., a 27-year-old international student from Peru, came to the clinic in June 2016. She wanted to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and needed a medical exam.

The woman, whom The Tribune is identifying by her initials to protect her privacy, said in an interview that Pickering was insistent that he do a breast and vaginal exam — and she recalls him telling her he would not sign her missionary paperwork unless she agreed to them. C.C. remembered Pickering telling her that because she was 27 years old, she needed these types of exams.

C.C. did not want the exams and didn’t think she needed them, she said, but she felt she had no choice but to agree.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) C.C., pictured Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, said she felt nurse practitioner Derrick Pickering gave her an unnecessary breast and pelvic exam at the Utah Valley University student clinic in 2016.

She said she didn’t realize that something may have been wrong with the exam until 2018, after another UVU nurse practitioner told her those types of exams are not necessary for potential missionaries. According to the search warrant affidavit, that health care worker later told the Draper detective that “the mission physical paperwork does not require a PAP, as an individual has to be sexually active for concerns of cervical cancer, which [C.C.] was not.”

C.C. reported Pickering to police a few weeks after speaking with the second nurse practitioner. But she said that when she went to law enforcement, she felt the officer thought she was lying or simply complaining.

Owens, Pickering’s attorney, denied that his client refused to sign her paperwork unless she had a Pap smear done. He said the nurse practitioner followed appropriate medical standards and had “had no incentive other than to take good care of his patients.”

Pickering also started working at Belle Medical in 2019, according to his attorney. A patient who saw him there for liposuction on her lower stomach in January 2022 also later told police she felt Pickering repeatedly touched her breast inappropriately during the treatment; Pickering denies touching her breast, Owens said, adding that she may have felt a cord that was attached to the surgical instrument.

[Read more: This Utah woman says she was touched inappropriately during a cosmetic procedure. She’s the fourth to report the medical worker to police.]

The woman reported Pickering to Draper police the day after her procedure, but recently told The Tribune she felt dismissed by law enforcement. She said a detective thanked her for reporting Pickering and said “this will be really helpful if anybody else comes forward.”

By that time, there had already been two other reports: the two women before her who had gone to UVU police in Utah County. But no one at the Draper Police Department, in Salt Lake County, knew that then. Draper police officials have said they did not learn about the UVU cases until recently, as a detective investigated the fourth woman’s report.

A defamation countersuit

That woman, Chelsi Rasmussen, went to Belle Medical in November 2021 for a cosmetic procedure where fat would be liposuctioned from other parts of her body and transferred to her breasts.

She recounted in a civil lawsuit how she says Pickering moved her paper underwear to the side during the procedure, touched her vagina and told her that “they did a good job sewing you up, little to no scarring.” The lawsuit also alleges that he told her, “it doesn’t look like you birthed four kids.” Rasmussen looked over to a nurse who was also in the room, according to her suit, but the woman had a laptop propped up and Rasmussen couldn’t see her face.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chelsi Rasmussen is suing a nurse practitioner who she says inappropriately touched her during a 2021 cosmetic procedure at Belle Medical, a Draper medical spa.

Rasmussen grappled internally for more than a year with what she says happened, she said, before she reported Pickering to Draper police last August and sued him in civil court a month later. The Tribune generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Rasmussen agreed to the use of her name.

Pickering recently filed his response to her lawsuit, denying he sexually touched her. In a bolded paragraph at the beginning of the court filing, Pickering’s attorney noted that Rasmussen followed up with the same Belle Medical clinic 12 times after the procedure and never disclosed inappropriate conduct. Owens further wrote that Rasmussen had another cosmetic procedure done by Pickering six months after that first procedure where she says he touched her inappropriately.

Pickering also counter sued Rasmussen for defamation, alleging that she falsely accused him of sexual assault in order to elevate her career as an online “influencer” and to help her win the Mrs. Utah America crown in March. He accused her in the countersuit of making a “false police report,” and defaming him in comments made to DOPL and in interviews she did with a Tribune reporter.

Her comments have damaged Pickering personally and professionally, his attorney wrote, and has caused him to lose patients. Along with asking for compensatory and punitive damages, Pickering has asked a judge to issue an injunction preventing Rasmussen from speaking publicly about allegations of sexual assault against him.

“[Rasmussen’s] statements defamed Mr. Pickering by calling into question his honesty, integrity, virtue and reputation,” his attorney wrote. “They have caused him public hatred, contempt, and ridicule from those who follow [Rasmussen] on social media or read the [Tribune] story. When one Googles Defendant’s name, the story appears at or near the top.”

Adam Sorenson, Rasmussen’s attorney, said in a statement that Pickering’s countersuit is one reason why it’s “so hard and frightening” for alleged sexual assault survivors to come forward and speak out about their experiences.

“Not only do they face having to re-live traumatic experiences as they tell their story, they face being sued for defamation by the person they are speaking out against,” he said. “Trauma is not always logical and cannot be defined in one or two sentences, nor can the response to it be stereotyped. It is far more nuanced, particularly when the trauma is inflicted by someone you are supposed to be able to trust.”