UVM doc still on paid leave

The trial of UVM faculty member and Fletcher Allen practitioner Joseph Abate is proceeding slowly almost a year after the first complaint of inappropriate conduct was filed against him. Abate is being charged with eight counts of sexual assault and six counts of lewd and lascivious conduct after nine female patients came forward last year, claiming that Abate had touched them inappropriately during orthopedic medical examinations. The investigation began on May 1, 2007, when Detective Edward Soychak interviewed a 22-year-old female patient identified in the affidavit as “A.R.” The affidavit details how during a knee exam, Abate allegedly “put his fingers in A.R.’s vagina” and sent A.R. “concerning” e-mails after the incident. On June 4, Soychak met with Abate to discuss the incidents reported by A.R. and subsequently took Abate into custody. Abate was arraigned in court and released on $10,000 bail the following day. After the news of Abate’s arraignment, eight more women came forward, ranging in age from 18 to 27. All had experienced similarly inappropriate behavior on the part of Abate during exams. The nine affidavits detail how Abate would regularly schedule appointments after regular hours and in irregular facilities, such as his University office or a laboratory on campus. The affidavit reports that victim called A.R. said “Abate wasn’t wearing gloves” and “never made any statements to her about why he was touching her vaginal area.” “It is a little suspicious,” said UVM sophomore Abbey Hoffman, “and kind of offensive that he thinks these women are so ignorant that they would not realize something was up.”Despite the allegedly inappropriate conduct of Abate, the prosecution has struggled to secure orthopedic experts who will actively take issue with his conduct, for a variety of reasons. The lack of medical ex?perts willing to testify against Abate has recently delayed the proceedings. “I can’t find many practicing orthopedic surgeons who want to do this,” prosecutor Cindy Maguire told Judge Linda Levitt in early February. On February 11, Maguire motioned for an extension in order to find expert testimony and the motion was granted by the judge. Levitt awarded the prosecution 60 days to procure the aforementioned testimony. Eric Miller, Abate’s attorney, objected to the extension claiming that the case against Abate had “crumbled” due to the case being “weak” and has maintained that Abate’s examination procedures were standard procedure. “I think if it was only one woman, the case could be viewed as weak,” said Hoff?man, “but with nine women and nine instances, I don’t think it is weak at all.” Despite the lack of expert testimony in court, the police affidavits detail multiple interviews with multiple OBGYN and orthopedic surgeons, while many could cite potential reasons for vaginal examination during an orthopedic medical appointment, none could find possible medical support for Abate’s actions. James Cahill, a Board Certified OBGYN serving on the Vermont Medical Board was cited in the affidavit as calling Abate’s exam behavior “way out of line.” Joseph Abate is currently on paid leave from his job as an orthopedic surgeon at Fletcher Allen’s Colchester campus, his teaching position at UVM and his work as an orthopedic consultant for UVM and St. Michael’s sports teams.