MIDDLETOWN — The lawyer defending Dr. Tory Westbrook against sexual assault charges called several witnesses Thursday as he continued working to undermine the allegations brought by five of Westbrook's former patients.
Norm Pattis called as witnesses two lawyers who represent four of the women in civil lawsuits against Westbrook, 45, of Glastonbury, who is accused of sexually assaulting the women during examinations at the Community Health Center of Clinton.
Pattis has suggested to the three women and three men on the Middletown Superior Court jury that the accusers have a financial incentive to make the accusations against Westbrook.
Christopher Morano, a former chief state's attorney who now practices in Essex, said he represents three of the women and has sued Westbrook on behalf of two of them. Irving Pinsky, a New Haven lawyer, said he represents one woman and has filed suit on her behalf. The lawyer for the fourth woman who sued was not called to testify.
Some the woman, all of whom testified in Westbrook's trial, said they did not know whether lawsuits had been filed on their behalf, or that they were not focused on the lawsuit. The lawyers testified Thursday that they had kept their clients informed of their work on their behalf.
Also Thursday, Gail Fasciano, the nurse manager at the Community Health Center's Clinton office, testified that one of Westbrook's accusers, with whom she has been acquainted since the woman was in elementary school, showed no signs of being upset after an appointment with Westbrook during which an assault allegedly occurred.
Fasciano, under cross-examination by Middlesex State's Attorney Peter McShane, also testified that while it might not have been policy at CHC, it was the practice to have a medical assistant in the room when a doctor performed any sort of "intimate exam" on a patient. McShane read off a list of reasons the accusers had gone to CHC, then asked Fasciano if an intimate exam would have been part of the visit in those cases. No, she responded in most cases.
Westbrook is accused of inappropriately touching the women's breasts and vaginas during medical appointments.
McShane asked Fasciano if question about sexual history, questions some of the accusers said Westbrook asked them, such as whether they used sex toys or engaged in bizarre sex acts, were routine. No, she responded.
Pattis also called Lavita Sookram, a registered nurse who investigates health care providers for the state Department of Public Health, who offered confusing testimony about the status of a complaint one of the women filed against Westbrook.
The department never opened an investigation after one of the women's initial complaints, but did so later after another woman complained. Another patient, Sookram testified, opted to make her complaint about Westbrook to police rather that the Department of Public Health.
When asked why the department did not choose to investigate the initial complaint, Sookram said she could not say because her supervisor made the decision.
Pattis will continue with Westbrook's defense Friday. Pattis has not yet notified Gold whether Westbrook plans to testify.