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Doctor Charged With Sexually Assaulting Patients In Clinton

Hartford Courant - Local News
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Police have arrested a doctor on multiple charges of sexual assault, charging that he sexually abused three patients in his Clinton office.

Tory Z. Westbrook, 43, of Glastonbury — recently appointed an administrator at the Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford and husband of Superior Court Judge Dawne Westbrook — turned himself in after learning that police had obtained three warrants for his arrest.

Each warrant charges him with at least one count of second-degree sexual assault. He also faces a charge of fourth-degree sexual assault, Clinton police said.

Westbrook is accused of sexually assaulting three female patients at the Community Health Center in Clinton during medical appointments from 2010 through January 2012, police said.

In all, Westbrook was charged with seven counts of second-degree sexual assault. Police continue to investigate similar complaints about him from other patients, Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn said Tuesday afternoon.

At his arraignment Tuesday at Superior Court in Middletown, Judge Susan B. Handy said that she didn't consider Westbrook to be a flight risk, but because of the seriousness of the charges, she left his bail at $450,000 — $150,000 for each warrant.

The warrants have been sealed, and Middlesex State's Attorney Peter McShane indicated that he would seek to have them sealed permanently.

Westbrook's lawyer, Norm Pattis, said that Westbrook would plead not guilty to the charges.

"Dr. Westbrook is an outstanding physician who has for many, many years given a great deal to the community," Pattis said. "I would ask for people to suspend judgment, not to believe everything they read, don't jump on the bandwagon and give us an opportunity to tell our side of the story. I'm confident that when that happens, Dr. Westbrook will return to the practice of medicine."

Westbrook, a family practitioner, posted bail Tuesday afternoon.

Christopher Morano, the former chief state's attorney who is now in private practice, was at the arraignment and told Handy that he was representing two of the women who brought complaints against Westbrook.

Outside court, he encouraged any other women who had complaints about Westbrook to contact Clinton police. His clients, Morano said, were treated with fairness and respect by police when they came forward.

It is "difficult for women who have to go to doctors for the most intimate of examination," Morano said. "Unfortunately, in this particular case, the trust my clients placed in their doctor was violated, and as a result of that they were severely traumatized." Morano refused to say if the two women were planning civil lawsuits against Westbrook.

Gov.Dannel P. Malloy's office issued a statement about the allegations against Westbrook, saying that Malloy finds the charges "profoundly disturbing" and was taking them "very seriously.''

Last August, Westbrook was appointed as a volunteer to the Sustinet HealthCare Cabinet for a term of four years.

Malloy spokeswoman Juliet Manalan said in a statement, "It is clear that his participation in the cabinet will not help the state move forward to ensure affordable, accessible care to residents. The governor is now reviewing the options around this appointment, including Dr. Westbrook's removal.''

Westbrook also served on the state commission for health care equity.

Pattis, outside court, reacted angrily to Morano's and Malloy's comments.

"I think plenty of people are disturbed at Dan Malloy running his mouth in the face of the presumption of innocence. Which part of the Constitution does he think is optional in this state?" Pattis said of Malloy. "He should be ashamed of himself."

As to Morano, Pattis said that the victim advocate could address the alleged victims' concerns.

"Why is Chris Morano here?" Pattis asked. "If he thinks that there's a roulette wheel and we're going to spit out cash for him or anyone else who comes out with unsubstantiated claims, I've got a message for him. Back off and buy a lottery ticket. Dr. Westbrook isn't one of those."

Pattis accused Morano of trying to drum up business by urging others to step forward. "This is the worst form of ambulance chasing," Pattis said.

Westbrook left the Clinton practice in February when he was hired as medical director of the Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford. When another doctor took over as Charter Oak's permanent medical director in late March, Westbrook became the health center's chief of internal medicine.

Charter Oak CEO Peter Velez said that Westbrook was placed on administrative leave Tuesday morning. He wouldn't say whether the leave was paid.

"I would like to point out that he never treated patients at Charter Oak," Velez said.

Charter Oak was ordered to make significant improvements to its infection-control program after it was learned that the health center waited more than a month to inform patients and staff that a regular patient had tuberculosis last year. Westbrook was hired as part of the effort to correct deficiencies at the center.

Westbrook owns The Laser Spa LLC at 391 Center St. in Manchester, according to state records. It offers hair removal, skin tightening and spider vein removal treatments, according to its website.

Assisting police with the five-month investigation were the state's attorney's office in Middletown, the chief state's attorney's Medicaid fraud unit, the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Consumer Protection's drug control unit.

The state Department of Public Health probably will take action in response to the allegations against Westbrook.

DPH spokeswoman Diana Lejardi said in a statement, "Typically, matters of this nature are investigated by the department. Each case is reviewed on an individual basis, and a determination is made as to whether or not charges will be filed with the Connecticut Medical Examining Board for their review and action.''

In the case of Dr. Edwin Njoku, who was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, the medical examining board reviewed the East Hartford police investigation, held an emergency meeting and voted to suspend Njoku's medical license. The suspension was made permanent at a subsequent board hearing for Njoku, who is appealing.

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