Since the arrest of Dr. Tory Z. Westbrook last week on charges that he allegedly assaulted three female patients, prosecutors said complaints against the Glastonbury physician have doubled.
Middlesex State's Attorney Peter McShane successfully argued Thursday that the "ongoing" investigation of these complaints is the reason three arrest warrant affidavits charging Westbrook with multiple counts of sexual assault should remain sealed from public view.
But Westbrook's lawyer, Norman A. Pattis, fought against the seal, at times sparring with the judge. With Westbrook, 43, by his side at the defense table, Pattis told Handy the state's claim that release of the warrants would compromise the investigation is without merit and that his ability to investigate the claims are "chilled" as long as they remained secret.
"Our view is they are false complaints and I want all the information I can get," Pattis said.
Pattis said after reviewing the affidavits charging Westbrook, he thinks "there was conduct within the range of clinical accepted procedure."
McShane said the identities of the complainants should be protected, saying "the personal safety" of witnesses and confidential informants "could be jeopardized" if the information was released.
Judge Susan B. Handy agreed with McShane and extended the seal on the affidavits. She said "release of the affidavits clearly would taint prosecution of any future cases and taint input from any future witnesses."
Saying the seal would not be indefinite, Handy extended it until July 17, when she will re-evaluate whether to extend it further.
Handy said Pattis has reviewed the affidavits and knows the identities of the complainants. She disagreed with Pattis' charges that prosecutors are trying Westbrook's case in the press, saying "the state has done all in its power" to make sure the case is being prosecuted fairly. But Pattis objected, saying a Clinton police officer was "running his mouth" in the media about the case.
"Excuse me," a stern Handy said. "Don't interrupt me, Mr. Pattis."
After the hearing outside the courtroom, McShane would not give an exact number when asked how many complaints have been filed against Westbrook. He said the number doubled "from what we took intitially for complaints."
Westbrook is accused of assaulting three women at the Community Health Center in Clinton during medical appointments from 2010 through January 2012, Clinton police said.
Police Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn has said police are investigating similar complaints about Westbrook from other patients, but law enforcement officials have released few details about the alleged assaults and other information about their investigation. Prosecutors have also released few details about the case publicly.
Last August, Gov.Dannel P. Malloyappointed Westbrook to the Sustinet HealthCare Cabinet for a term of four years. Westbrook, who is married to a Superior Court judge, also served on the state commission for health care equity.
Westbrook left the Clinton family practice in February to serve as medical director of the Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford. When the center hired a permanent director in late March, Westbrook became the center's chief of internal medicine. Since his arrest, he has been placed on administrative leave.
Westbrook is free after posting $450,000 bail.