2 more patients accuse fertility doctor of assault
Two more patients who were treated at a popular Massachusetts fertility clinic are accusing Dr. Roger Ian Hardy, the clinic’s former longtime medical director, of sexually assaulting them during medical procedures.
A 40-year-old Marlborough woman and her husband filed a lawsuit against Hardy and Fertility Centers of New England earlier this month in Middlesex Superior Court. They allege that Hardy assaulted her during an egg retrieval procedure in September 2013 while she was under anesthesia. The suit says the clinic, based in Reading, knew about Hardy’s alleged history of abuse of patients — or at least should have known — and yet hid it from its patients.
A second woman has hired a lawyer and plans to sue Hardy, the clinic, and a former owner. She alleges that Hardy touched her inappropriately during a June 2012 ultrasound imaging test of her uterus, during which she was awake. She was recently interviewed by investigators from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office, which has opened an investigation, said the woman’s attorney, Tyler Fox of Cambridge.
The attorney for the Fertility Centers, Nicholas Di Mauro, would not comment on the new accusations.
Hardy declined to be interviewed by a reporter who tracked him down at his new home in Thailand last year, as part of a Globe investigation into the long chain of allegations against him that go back decades. The newspaper interviewed three other patients who accused Hardy of sexual misconduct during medical procedures.
Former classmates from Hardy’s years as a Princeton University undergraduate said he also assaulted several women in college. Two of the allegations were reported to Princeton officials, according to classmates, and, in another case, an alleged college victim told her story to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.
The Globe does not publish the names of sexual assault victims without their permission.
The newspaper found that, over three decades, more than a dozen people in positions of authority — college administrators, hospital supervisors, clinic owners, medical colleagues, and regulators — were told, with various degrees of specificity, of Hardy’s alleged sexual assaults and alleged inappropriate contact with patients. But in nearly every case, their response was minimal, and they often believed Hardy’s denials over the women’s charges.
He resigned his medical license in January 2014, even as he maintained his innocence, amid a Board of Registration in Medicine investigation. The board interviewed several women who said they were abused by Hardy, according to an investigator’s affidavit.
In the complaint filed by the Marlborough patient, she said she awoke from the egg retrieval procedure at the clinic’s Reading office with “severe vaginal trauma and bleeding.’’ She said she told Hardy and several nurses about the pain and bleeding, but he said it “was a normal part of the procedure, and that he had to go in deep and hard,’’ her complaint alleges.
The Marlborough patient’s lawyer, Christopher Jantzen of Boston, said an expert witness will testify that the level of physical trauma she experienced during the procedure by Hardy is not a normal part of egg retrieval. He said his client suffered from anxiety, depression, nightmares, and insomnia as a result of the procedure.
Jantzen declined to comment about whether his client spoke to Middlesex County investigators. A spokeswoman for that office said they do not confirm or deny investigations when no charges have been filed.
The woman who alleges Hardy assaulted her in June 2012 said she originally began to see him in 2003 for endometriosis, which is when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus. She became pregnant without fertility treatments and Hardy followed her through the first few months of two pregnancies.
“I trusted him,’’ she said. “I considered him someone I could really talk to.’’
Later, Hardy advised in vitro fertilization and did a test called a sonohysterogram in the Reading office. She said he put his thumb on her clitoris during the procedure.
Lying on the table, she wondered if his position was necessary to do the test but felt unsure about expressing her discomfort. When she had a similar procedure at Boston IVF in 2014, however, the clinician’s fingers were nowhere near that area, she said.
The woman’s attorney, Tyler Fox, also represents a North Shore patient previously interviewed by the Globe who said she was assaulted by Hardy while under anesthesia in 2003. Her complaint to the board at the time went nowhere. She said she also informed a number of physicians, including Dr. Brian Berger at Boston IVF, from whom she got a second opinion, and Dr. Joseph Hill, owner of Fertility Centers of New England.
Di Mauro, Hill’s attorney, denied that Hill knew about the North Shore patient’s complaint in 2003, and said Hill was not aware of it until last year. Berger has said he could not comment, citing patient confidentiality.
Neither doctor reported Hardy to the medical board, and Fox has criticized the board for not moving to discipline them.
“The board’s investigations of Hardy, FCNE, and other doctors who knew or had information about Hardy sexually abusing his patients at FCNE has been grossly inadequate and not timely,’’ Fox said.
In yet another case, a woman who lives in the suburbs west of Boston previously told the Globe that Hardy rubbed her clitoris during a routine exam in 1999 at Women’s Health Associates in Wellesley, where Hardy sometimes worked. Dr. Paul Richer, one of the founders of the practice, helped pay for mediation for the patient and Hardy, according to mediation documents. But he apparently did not report the incident to the medical board because the board said it received no complaint at the time.
Richer has not responded to phone calls from the Globe.
The acting executive director of the medical board, Rhonda Maloney, said she could not “comment on or confirm any open investigation.’’ She said the board “takes every complaint that comes to our attention very seriously. It is the policy of [the board] to actively and thoroughly investigate and pursue any allegation of physician misconduct.’’
The board did not investigate Hardy until 2013, when Dr. Janis Fox, a fertility expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, reported him. She did so after another patient confided in Fox that Hardy had touched her inappropriately.