Patient sues psychiatrist for alleged sexual abuse during appointment

By Anna Aguillard | Jul 30, 2014

COVINGTON – A Slidell woman is suing her psychiatrist, claiming that he blocked her in his office and “groped” her.

Sirena Estes filed suit against James B. Denney, M.D. and James B. Denney, A Professional Medical Corporation, in the 22nd Judicial District Court on July 22.

Estes claims that on July 30, 2012, she saw the defendant for a regularly scheduled appointment intended to help manage medication, depression, panic attacks, pain disorder and anxiety. On this particular day, she alleges, he arrived late and spent “much longer than usual” asking her questions regarding her medical history. She alleges that, although the appointments had not previously included physical examinations, Denney walked behind her and began massaging her shoulders. According to the suit, Denney directed her to stand in front of him, where he then “reached around and groped her breast and crotch area.” The plaintiff also claims that Denney blocked her against the door, looked down her shirt, raised her blouse up to her neck, and, with a stethoscope in hand, “felt her breasts through her brassiere.”

The plaintiff asserts that, within an hour of leaving Denney’s office, she broke down in an “emotional collapse.” She contends that she reported the incident to the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners, whose investigation concluded in a consent order barring Denney from seeing female patients in the future. Denney’s “vile and loathsome” conduct, the suit claims, resulted in the “genuine and serious mental anguish” of Estes.

The defendant is accused of a number of acts of negligence, malicious and harmful intent, including failing to follow appropriate medical standards of care, negligently humiliating a patient, negligently causing the plaintiff to feel sexually violated, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during an appointment, failing to have a female nurse or chaperone present during an examination, intentionally engaging in outrageous and extreme behavior, abusing and degrading a patient, committing assault and battery, falsely imprisoning a patient and abusing his power.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought by the plaintiff for mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, substantial medical expenses and loss of wages.

The plaintiff is represented by G. Brice Jones, Ross F. LaGarde and Paul D. Hesse of Slidell-based Jones LaGarde LLC.

The case has been assigned to Division C Judge Richard A. Swartz Jr.

Case no. 2013-13387.

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