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GUILTY: NorthShore University HealthSystem/Swedish Covenant gynecologist pleads guilty to sexually abusing our client

A former NorthShore University HealthSystem/Swedish Covenant obstetrics and gynecology doctor – Fabio Ortega, 75 – has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting one of our clients, and another woman, during closed-door exams, in 2016 and 2017. In exchange for his plea of guilty, to two counts of felony Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse, Ortega was sentenced to three-years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

After his plea, our client made a Victim Impact Statement to Ortega and NorthShore’s lawyers, saying, “You have broken me. You haunt my dreams and creep into my most intimate moments. I am a shell of my former self. I’m not living, I am barely surviving day to day…No matter what I do, how much medicine I take, how many times a week I see my therapist, how many people I surround myself with, this will forever be my new identity. I will always be a victim but am hoping that one day I will learn to be a survivor.” Ms. Doe 3 is available for further comment.

The NorthShore/Swedish female patients allege that Ortega engaged in the following perverted conduct behind closed-doors:

  • Ortega penetrated his fingers into female patients’ vaginas;
  • Ortega grabbed female patients’ breasts;
  • Ortega asked female patients’ sexually perverted questions;
  • Ortega touched female patients’ anuses;
  • Ortega called female patients late at night, in an effort to groom them.

The lawsuits also allege that NorthShore’s top officials – including its head of the Gynecology and Obstetrics Department – allowed Ortega to continue to work despite knowing he was under criminal investigation for sexual assault. Then, NorthShore allowed Ortega to quietly retire rather than fire him. The women’s claims span over the years of 1996-2017.

“Ortega’s guilty plea would not have occurred without the help of many people outside of the NorthShore system. We are so thankful for the investigators at Skokie and Lincolnwood police departments, the prosecutors with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. These are the people who believed Ortega’s victims. NorthShore did not. Instead, NorthShore and Swedish choose profits over patient safety. They ignored the cries of their female patients. They harbored a sexual predator.

And still, even after Ortega’s guilty plea, they refuse to apologize to the female patients who were abused under their roof. NorthShore and Swedish continue to gaslight Ortega’s victims and say they are not liable for his abuses. In court filings, NorthShore/Swedish have made a litany of defenses, including that Ortega’s conduct was proper; that the women are confused or lying; and, that NorthShore/Swedish are not liable because the women’s claims are time-barred by the statute of limitations. We are determined to end the institutional abuse of women who put their lives into the hands of their healthcare providers,” says Chicago-based attorney Tamara Holder.

To date, Ms. Holder and her co-counsel Johanna J. Raimond have filed a combined 14 lawsuits against NorthShore and Swedish. Currently, there are seven pending lawsuits against NorthShore, and two pending lawsuits against Swedish Covenant, where Ortega worked before NorthShore. NorthShore has settled at least 6 lawsuits since 2019.

If you have additional information about NorthShore or Ortega, please contact us at: 312-818-3850 or email: contact@tamaraholder.com.

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