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Pasadena obstetrician no longer practicing at Huntington Hospital amid sexual misconduct claims

Pasadena obstetrician no longer practicing at Huntington Hospital amid sexual misconduct claims
A longtime gynecologist at Huntington Memorial Hospital accused of sexual misconduct is no longer practicing at the hospital, administrators announced on Friday. (Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Huntington Memorial Hospital said Friday that a veteran Pasadena obstetrician accused of sexual misconduct and other improprieties was no longer treating patients at the Pasadena hospital.

The announcement about Dr. Patrick Sutton came days after The Times presented the hospital with five pages of findings and detailed questions for a story it was preparing about the physician.

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In an email to the newspaper Friday morning, hospital spokeswoman Eileen Neuwirth said that “effective immediately” Sutton was not practicing at Huntington. She declined to elaborate.

John Burton, an attorney representing Sutton, said his client took a leave of absence from his hospital privileges on Thursday by “agreement.” Sutton has denied wrongdoing.

Sutton has practiced at Huntington since 1989 and delivered more than 6,000 babies over the course of his career. Colleagues have elected him chair of the hospital’s nationally ranked obstetrics and gynecology service repeatedly and he was set to take over the department again in January.

He was forced out of Huntington’s leadership last month after The Times reported that the Medical Board of California had accused him of sexual misconduct, the fifth time a patient had made such an allegation against him.

The 64-year-old doctor has been accused of inappropriate touching and making suggestive remarks to patients by the medical board in three disciplinary proceedings and in a civil lawsuit filed by two former patients. Four of those cases were settled without any admission of sexual misconduct by Sutton. Through an attorney, the physician has called the remaining case, which is still pending, baseless.

After the allegations surfaced last month, three women filed a federal class-action lawsuit accusing Sutton of subjecting them to unwanted sexual remarks in the 1990s. Last week, another former patient sued the obstetrician in Los Angeles Superior Court, accusing him of sexual battery and other claims during the birth of her child.

Burton, the lawyer representing Sutton, has previously denied the lawsuits’ accusations and said that the field of obstetrics “is an extremely difficult, challenging area that requires split-second judgment.”

On Friday, Burton expressed confidence that Sutton’s privileges would be restored.

“Things have to be sorted out,” the lawyer said.

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