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Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

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Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients
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Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

2024-04-23 09:12 Last Updated At:09:21

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former longtime medical director of a Virginia hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, while the physician's attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct.

The trial of Daniel N. Davidow of Richmond, who for decades served as the medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, opened Monday morning in New Kent County, where a judge will weigh the charges against him.

Davidow, along with the hospital and its parent company, faces a separate civil proceeding in which dozens of former patients have accused him of inappropriate touching, allegations he also has denied. He was criminally charged in December 2022 with four felony counts in connection with allegations made by two of those former patients.

The young women, who were teenagers when they were admitted to Cumberland, both testified Monday, saying Davidow groped their breasts and genitals during a physical examination as part of the admissions process.

“I teared up. I was in shock,” one woman told the court.

One woman said the abuse continued in subsequent exams, and the other said she had addition encounters in which Davidow touched her inappropriately or made her uncomfortable.

T. Scott Renick, the top prosecutor in New Kent County east of Richmond, where the hospital is located, said in his opening statement that the girls were in extremely vulnerable conditions, living without their parents or other caregivers at the residential facility that specializes in complex cases and sometimes takes patients from other states under court order.

“The truth is that the so-called exams were a ruse” to touch the two girls inappropriately, Renick said, adding that as the medical director for the facility, Davidow "had complete control over them.”

Defense attorney Craig Cooley said Davidow “adamantly” denies the allegations. He said other clinicians who had been in the room with Davidow during exams as a chaperone will testify that they never saw any inappropriate touching of either former patient, and he described Davidow as a dedicated physician committed to helping even the most difficult or medically complex children.

Cooley also raised concerns about the former patients' motivations, noting that they are each seeking many millions of dollars in the pending civil matter.

“They have an interest in the outcome of this case,” he said.

One of the former patients told Cooley during a pointed exchange that she was unfamiliar with the legal system and never set out to win compensation. She engaged with the attorneys representing her in the civil case because she thought they could help her “by getting justice," she testified.

The Associated Press is not naming either woman because it generally does not identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted.

Near the end of Monday's hearing, after the prosecution rested its case, Cooley — a well-known Virginia defense attorney — made an unsuccessful motion to strike the charges, raising concerns about the women's credibility and discrepancies between various accounts they had given about the alleged misconduct.

“We have these accusations, but they change,” he said.

Renick responded that Cooley was trying to “get us all off in the woods” by noting what he characterized as minor differences in accounts they'd given. Inconsistencies or additions to the testimonies of victims are normal, he said.

“When kids come forward and they disclose in these situations it's not always all at once,” he said.

Davidow, 71, pleaded not guilty to two counts of a felony indecent liberties charge and two counts of object sexual penetration, also a felony.

Cumberland, located about a half-hour's drive, east of Richmond, treats children and young adults with complex medical needs, including chronic illnesses, brain injuries and neurobehavioral disorders. Cooley described it as unique in the country for the type of cases it takes on, accepting patient referrals from around the world, he said.

Cooley, who listed nearly three dozen witnesses who may be called, was expected to begin presenting his defense Tuesday.

He declined to comment after Monday's hearing, as did attorneys representing the former patients in the civil case.

Virginia State Police began investigating staff at the hospital in October 2017, a spokeswoman has said, and Davidow is at least the third former Cumberland staffer to be charged with a crime in connection with a patient.

One, a psychotherapist, was charged with sexually abusing a patient and died by suicide the same day he was due in court for a plea hearing. The other, a behavioral technician, was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading no contest to an allegation that she intentionally burned a disabled child with scalding water.

Five plaintiffs in the civil case, which has survived an attempt by the defendants to have it dismissed and another attempt to have its claims pared back under the state's medical malpractice law, are set for trial in September.

FILE - This aerial image taken with a drone shows Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Tuesday Sept. 20, 2022, in New Kent, Va. The former longtime medical director of the hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, April 22, 2024, while the physician's attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

FILE - This aerial image taken with a drone shows Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Tuesday Sept. 20, 2022, in New Kent, Va. The former longtime medical director of the hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, April 22, 2024, while the physician's attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

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Hunter Biden arrives at court for a final hearing before his June 3 gun trial

2024-05-25 00:06 Last Updated At:00:10

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Hunter Biden is back in court on Friday for the final hearing before he's expected to stand trial on federal firearms charges in Delaware as his father's reelection campaign unfolds.

President Joe Biden's son didn't speak to reporters as he followed his lawyers into the Wilmington courthouse. He's charged with lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. He has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he didn’t break the law and the case is politically motivated.

The two sides have been arguing in court documents about evidence in the case, including contents from a laptop that he allegedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop. Defense attorneys question the authenticity of the laptop's data in court documents, but prosecutors say that there's no evidence the data has been compromised and that a drawn-out fight over it at trial would be a waste of time. The laptop has been the source of controversy for years after Republicans accessed and disseminated personal data from it.

Prosecutors also plan to show jurors portions of his 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things,” in which he detailed his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse following the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, of brain cancer at age 46.

Defense attorneys argue prosecutors are cherry-picking evidence from the book and want to also include more information they chose.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika will preside over what's expected to be the last hearing before trial expected to begin with jury selection on June 3.

Hunter Biden is also facing federal tax charges in Los Angeles and is set for trial in that case in September. He’s accused of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes over four years while living an “extravagant lifestyle” during a period in which he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. The back taxes have since been paid.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have pushed unsuccessfully in both cases to have them dismissed. They have argued, among other things, that prosecutors bowed to political pressure to indict him after a plea agreement hit the skids in court and was publicly pilloried by Republicans, including Trump, as a “sweetheart deal.”

Trump, who is running to unseat the Democratic president, faces his own legal problems. He is charged in four criminal cases, including a hush money trial underway in New York.

The long-running federal investigation into the president’s son had looked ready to wrap up with a plea deal last year, but the agreement imploded after a judge raised questions about it. Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted.

Under the deal, he would have gotten two years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on the gun charge if he stayed out of trouble.

Follow the AP’s coverage of Hunter Biden at https://apnews.com/hub/hunter-biden.

Attorney Abbe Lowell arrives for a court appearance by Hunter Biden, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Attorney Abbe Lowell arrives for a court appearance by Hunter Biden, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Hunter Biden arrives for a court appearance, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

FILE - Hunter Biden arrives for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 28, 2024. Biden attorneys are expected in court Friday, May 24, days before the president's son is expected to stand trial on federal firearms charges in Delaware as his father's reelection campaign unfolds. Biden is charged with lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - Hunter Biden arrives for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 28, 2024. Biden attorneys are expected in court Friday, May 24, days before the president's son is expected to stand trial on federal firearms charges in Delaware as his father's reelection campaign unfolds. Biden is charged with lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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