All of the lawsuits claim the victims of Moussa’s actions have suffered and will continue to suffer “depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, nightmares, mental anguish and fear of medical treatment.”
TOM McLAUGHLIN @TomMnwfdn
CRESTVIEW — News that Physician Khalid Moussa had been sued by five women alleging sexual assault and battery spread quickly overnight as women who had dealt with him communicated through social media channels.
An office manager for Powell Injury Law confirmed receiving seven phone calls Wednesday morning from women who identified themselves as victims of Moussa and an eighth who had concerns about an encounter she had had with the doctor.
Attorney Dixie Dan Powell, who filed the original lawsuits May 18, is the managing partner at Powell Injury Law.
A Northwest Florida Daily News Facebook page that featured an article about the lawsuits against Moussa also garnered 118 comments and 319 shares from online readers. Many of the shares appeared to be from one woman to another.
Moussa, a gastroenterologist who works out of the headquarters of the North Okaloosa Physician Group at 550 Redstone Ave. in Crestview, was out of the office Wednesday morning and the staff said he was unavailable for comment.
Ronald Daves, the president and CEO of the North Okaloosa Medical Center, confirmed the Moussa continues to practice.
“His Florida license is valid and has not been limited by the State of Florida,” Daves said in an email.
Each woman who has sued Moussa claim the he was brusque with them when he entered an examination room and either began groping them or ordered them to raise their skirt, remove their pants or take off their top.
In three of the lawsuits, the women state Moussa ordered them to strip from the waist down, and when they complied he “began staring at her genitals.”
One woman claimed that on one occasion in 2017 Moussa groped her breasts and, when she returned for a second visit, he stared at her naked midsection then “inappropriately touched her genital area.” The lawsuit states as the woman “went to leave (Moussa) grabbed her and forcefully embraced her.”
The office manager at Powell Injury Law confirmed that the callers who contacted with the firm Wednesday told stories similar to those of the original five alleged victims.
All the lawsuits claim the alleged victims of Moussa’s actions have suffered and will continue to suffer “depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, nightmares, mental anguish and fear of medical treatment.”
One lawsuit states Moussa’s actions exacerbated a woman’s pre-existing medical condition. Two lawsuits claim the husband of the victim has lost his wife’s “services, comfort, society and attentions” as a result of her being sexually assaulted.
North Okaloosa Clinic Corp., which does business in Crestview as North Okaloosa Physician Group, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuits, claiming negligence in hiring Moussa and in failing to properly supervise him.
The lawsuits claim that if North Okaloosa Clinic Corp. had conducted a proper investigation of Moussa’s history it “would have learned and discovered that defendant Moussa was unfit to be hired and placed in a position of trust and confidence wherein he was left alone with female patients.”
Efforts to find evidence of prior misconduct by Moussa were not successful. Two sources verified a complaint had been filed against him in Connecticut, but, as is often the case in investigations conducted against doctors, the details of the complaint are not fully reported.
The Connecticut State Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to an email.
The lawsuits also state North Okaloosa Clinic Corp. was negligent in not knowing Moussa had battered and sexually assaulted female patients other than each of the five victims, and that Moussa “was unfit to be entrusted with the medical consultations or care of female patients.”
In all cases but one in which fondling and groping were alleged to have occurred, Moussa was alone with his victim, according to the lawsuits.
In the other case, a victim claimed a second woman associated with North Okaloosa Clinic Corp. was in the room as Moussa touched her in the genital and rectal regions. Additional groping took place both before the medical associate entered and after she left, the lawsuit states.
Martin Schweinhart is listed on the Florida Division of Corporations website as the president of North Okaloosa Clinic Corp. He and the other company officers operate out of Franklin, Tennessee, the website states.
Efforts to contact Schweinhart were unsuccessful.
Powell confirmed Tuesday that the Crestview Police Department and the Florida Department of Health have initiated investigations of complaints about Moussa. Neither agency had much to say Wednesday.
Crestview police spokesman Brian Hughes did confirm an “active investigation” was ongoing, but declined to release even basic information about the case.
Brad Dalton, a spokesman for the Health Department’s Division of Medical Quality Assurance, said he could not say whether or not the department had received a complaint until 10 days after probable cause for an investigation is found. If no probable cause is found, no information regarding the complaint will be released.
An in-depth report compiled by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015-16 and updated this year uncovered over 3,500 cases of doctors across the nation being cited for sexual misconduct. In about 2,800 of those cases, the newspaper reported, the victims were patients.
Also uncovered was a system that often protects the doctors and, in some cases, allows them to keep practicing even after being disciplined for sexual abuse.
In one case last year, a Jacksonville doctor was caught masturbating while treating a male patient, the paper reported. The state’s Department of Health reacted by placing the physician under an emergency restriction that “requires only that a licensed health care professional be present when he treats male patients.”
“The series exposed a culture of cover-ups, secret discipline and forgiveness that enabled abusive doctors to stay in practice in all 50 states,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The newspaper also learned that many cases of doctors’ sexual misconduct go unreported.
“Patients often say they are confused by a doctor’s actions, fear they won’t be believed or worry that filing a complaint will take a personal or professional toll,” the newspaper reported.