By: Lucy Alcindor
Newsday is reporting that “dozens of former patients are preparing a lawsuit against an ex-Long Island pediatrician who was stripped of his medical license in 2000 following numerous complaints of sexual abuse.”
It was almost 20 years ago, the Long Island newspaper noted, that is reported on Stuart Copperman, a Merrick doctor who had reportedly had his medical license revoked after half a dozen women reported to a state hearing panel that he had molested them when they were children between 1978 and 1989.
“At the time, the women were barred by statute of limitations laws from filing lawsuits. But a new state law has changed that,” Newsday reported. “An attorney representing the women said Wednesday they are seeking to file the complaint using a special look-back period provided by New York’s Child Victims Act, which was enacted recently.”
The new law opens a one-year window for abuse survivors to file suit against their abusers if they were barred from doing so previously by the statute of limitations.
The state Office of Professional Medical Conduct “received a steady stream of sexual abuse complaints about Mr. Copperman for nearly two decades, but did not strip him of his medical license until December 2000,” according to The New York Times. “By then, he was 65 years old and ready to retire. No criminal charges were ever filed. Mr. Copperman, 84, declined to comment for this story but in the past has denied any wrongdoing. His exams were thorough, he has said, and performed in accordance with standard medical practice.”
According to The Times, the women will be represented by attorney Kristen Gibbons Feden, who prosecuted Bill Cosby for sexual assault. “But even if they win in court, they are unlikely to reap significant compensation. Their dilemma highlights a major weakness in the new state law. Though Mr. Copperman is by all indications wealthy, he was a solo practitioner who ran his practice out of his basement. He lacks the assets of an institution like the Boy Scouts or a large hospital.”
Despite the stream of allegations, Copperman’s medical license was not revoked by the state’s medical board until 2000, reported The Daily Mail. “He has never faced any criminal charges and has long denied the allegations. The women say they view the pending lawsuits as their only chance for justice.”
The details are as gruesome as one would expect. “Some patients recalled Copperman forcing them to lie on their backs in the exam room because he told them they were ‘dirty’ and needed a ‘genital clean,’” the Daily Mail reported. “Many claim that he was so revered by parents as an upstanding man that they never questioned him when he said he wanted to examine their children alone without them being present.”