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Utah magazine apologizes after including an OB-GYN repeatedly accused of sexual assault in its ‘Best Of’ issue

Women who sued David Broadbent and accused him of sexual assault said they were confused and hurt after seeing he placed third in the “Best Fertility” category.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The University Medical Center office building, Feb. 7, 2023, located on University Avenue in Provo where OB-GYN Dr. David Broadbent once practiced. More than 100 women have publicly accused David Broadbent of sexual assault, and many of them were upset this weekend after seeing that he was named a top fertility doctor in Utah Valley Magazine's "Best of" issue. The magazine has since apologized and removed his name from the list.

Seeing her former gynecologist listed as one of the area’s top fertility doctors in Utah Valley Magazine has reopened old wounds for Stephanie Mateer.

In 2021, she spoke out in a podcast and accused OB-GYN David Broadbent of sexually abusing her during an exam more than a decade earlier. Since her public disclosure, more than 120 women have alleged similar misconduct in lawsuits and in reports to the Provo Police Department. They allege that Broadbent inappropriately touched their breasts, vaginas and rectums during exams — often without warning or explanation, and in ways that hurt them and made them feel violated.

So Utah Valley Magazine’s decision to include Broadbent in its “Best Of” issue was confusing and painful, Mateer said. The magazine had invited readers to vote for their favorites across a number of categories — from medical care to shopping spots — and published the selection of Broadbent as the third top provider in its “fertility” category.

Utah Valley Magazine’s social media pages have been flooded with comments in the last three days from Utahns who have questioned why the publication recognized someone who has been accused of sexual assault by so many women.

“Shame on you for allowing David Broadbent to be one of the winners,” one woman wrote. “This list has no merit as long as he is included,” another wrote. “Shows where your morals align.”

Mateer said she has lost sleep and has a hard time focusing since reading his name on that list, wondering why he was included — particularly because he told licensers he closed his practice in 2022 to focus on defending himself against the accusations that Mateer and the other women have lodged against him.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Stephanie Mateer, shown at her home on Jan. 20, 2023, is one of 94 women who have sued their OB-GYN David Broadbent, alleging he sexually assaulted them during exams.

Did his past patients rally to vote for him, she wondered? That possibility felt like a “slap in the face.” Or was it an effort led by his friends? That forced her to remember a time when she said a person who knew Broadbent contacted her on the phone and called her a liar.

“There is no situation in which this isn’t painful,” she said Tuesday.

In response, the magazine on Tuesday removed Broadbent’s name from the online list and apologized. It plans to issue an apology in its next print issue. Founding Editor Jeanette Bennett said in a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune that the magazine’s decision has led to a “difficult learning lesson.”

Bennett said that her staff’s goal is to have “valid results,” regardless of who advertises with them or pressures them to be included in the “Best Of” lists. The only reason they’ve adjusted results in the past is if it appeared the votes had come from unethical voting, she said, such as “Russian bots sending thousands of votes in the middle of the night.”

Broadbent received a “significant amount of votes,” Bennett said, theorizing that supporters may have included his name as “a bit of a PR campaign.”

(Screenshot) Utah Valley Magazine had listed David Broadbent as a leader in "Fertility" in its 2024 "Best Of" issue.

After seeing that he received enough votes to make the top three, Bennett said, magazine staff checked to see that Broadbent’s license hadn’t been revoked by the state. (Broadbent entered into a stipulation with the Division of Professional Licensing in 2022, agreeing not to practice while Provo police’s investigation was pending. That agreement is considered non-disciplinary, and is still in place.)

“We chose not to alter the votes, and we let the results stand,” Bennett said. “We have now heard from many women involved in the lawsuit. Their stories are heart-wrenching. We are particularly sorry that our Best Of results added to their sorrows. This is one case in which we should have set the data aside and disregarded our readers’ votes.”

Bennett said that this negative feedback has caused staff members to add new steps to how they will process contest results in the future. They will now allow the editorial board to override votes, she said, and remove any individuals and companies deemed unfit for the list “for legal, moral and ethical reasons.”

“We care about our community and all of its residents. We care about women and believe their stories,” she said. “We understand that adding this subjective element to our voting process will provide a needed safety net so that we are truly highlighting and promoting the best of Utah Valley.”

The majority of comments about Broadbent on Utah Valley Magazine’s Instagram page were posted in the last 72 hours. However, one woman questioned the magazine’s decision 15 weeks ago, when the nominees were announced and reader voting was opened.

“David Broadbent should be removed from your fertility category,” she wrote. “He has been accused by over 100 women of sexual abuse and using his position as a doctor to take advantage of them. How could he have possibly been added to a list of Utah’s ‘best?’”

The magazine never replied to this comment.

Mateer said the magazine’s decision to look to Broadbent’s licensing status when deciding to include him highlights another issue in her mind: That Utah licensers did not revoke his license. Instead, he was allowed to enter into a “non-disciplinary” stipulation where he voluntarily agreed to stop seeing patients for the time being.

“The fact that Utah has not revoked his licensed after hundreds of women have accused him of sexual assault is appalling,” she said.

Though Broadbent has been accused in civil lawsuits and in at least 49 reports made to police, he has not been charged with a crime. Utah County prosecutors have been deciding whether to charge him for the last 18 months, and Deputy Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor said last month that they were working to get extra funding to hire a medical expert to give an opinion before making a decision.

According to the stipulation with licensers, Broadbent is not supposed to work as a physician until the criminal investigation against him is finished. It’s not clear whether he’s working in the fertility field in any other capacity, and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mateer is one of 94 women who have filed a civil lawsuit against Broadbent and two of the hospitals where he delivered some of their babies. But in September 2022, a judge dismissed their case when he ruled that it fell under medical malpractice law instead of a civil sexual assault claim, which meant it had faced tighter filing deadlines. The women have appealed the ruling to the Utah Supreme Court, and have been waiting for seven months for its decision.

Brooke Heath, another plaintiff in that lawsuit, said Tuesday that it’s been a frustrating journey for those who say Broadbent harmed them: Their lawsuit was dismissed. Other women who went to Provo police to report Broadbent say they faced delays, language issues and insensitive interview techniques. And after more than a year, prosecutors still haven’t decided whether they’ll charge Broadbent at all.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brooke Heath, photographed at home, Jan. 11, 2023, alleges Dr. David Broadbent violated her in December 2008 while she was hospitalized after experiencing complications with her first pregnancy.

So while Heath said seeing Broadbent’s name on that Utah Valley Magazine’s “Best Of” list was confusing and also felt to her like a “slap in the face,” she did appreciate that the publication responded quickly by removing his name from the online list after hearing from women who say they were abused.

“I am really impressed with the strong women that we have in our case,” she said, “that are bold enough to express their concerns, even in spite of all the times we’ve been shut down. To say, ‘Enough is enough.’”