Ryan Williams, a colorectal surgeon previously connected with the Cleveland Clinic, was reportedly kept on staff despite two separate accusations from patients who claimed he had raped them during medical procedures.
According to an investigative report from USA Today, Williams was accused by two women of anally raping them in 2008 and 2009, but was knowingly kept on the prominent Cleveland Clinic’s payroll, as he reached a confidential settlement with his supposed victims. Speaking to USA Today, Williams “vehemently” denied the allegations made by both former patients, adding that the claims were “affecting [his] work and home life.”
Close to a decade after the accusations, Ryan Williams left the Cleveland Clinic in June 2017, but a hospital spokeswoman told the Washington Post that his departure was not related to the rape allegations. She refused to provide further details to the publication, saying that the institution “[doesn’t] normally discuss personnel matters publicly.” Williams is now employed by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, which placed the surgeon on administrative leave last month.
In a prepared statement, Wexner Medical Center chief clinical officer Andrew Thomas said that the hospital was not aware of the accusations made against Ryan Williams during his time at Cleveland Clinic.
“The university takes these allegations of past misconduct seriously, and Dr. Williams was placed on administrative leave in December. We are actively investigating to ensure that patient safety at Ohio State was never compromised.”
USA Today’s expose on Williams related the experiences of both female patients, starting with an incident that reportedly took place in April 2008, as one of the patients was undergoing a rectal exam. The woman claimed that she was surprised to find out Williams had placed his penis in her rectum, which forced her to flee the exam room and report the incident to authorities. However, no evidence of a crime was found from a rape kit and other similar tests. A Cleveland Clinic representative also told USA Today that Williams passed a polygraph test and was not prosecuted in criminal court for his supposed actions. The woman then sued both Ryan Williams and the Cleveland Clinic, reaching a confidential settlement currently listed as a “miscellaneous tort claim.”
Several months later, in February 2009, another woman had visited Williams to have a hemorrhoid removed. She was allegedly asked to take two white pills “immediately,” which reportedly made her groggy during and after the procedure. It was only in 2014 when the woman’s recollections of what allegedly happened began to resurface “in flashes,” as simple activities such as a doctor’s appointment would trigger her and bring back memories of the incident with Williams. She then notified police about what allegedly happened five years prior, claiming that the surgeon had pushed her from behind and that she had seen him holding his penis.
Just like in the case of the first woman who accused Ryan Williams of rape, the then-Cleveland Clinic doctor was not charged with any crimes.
“[The Cleveland Clinic] went to great lengths to cover it up, and there was just no way for someone to be warned, to know what could happen,” said Williams’ second accuser.
“They can just make it completely disappear, and that kind of environment, it almost encourages these kinds of crimes.”
Cleveland Clinic kept doctor on staff despite knowing about rape allegations https://t.co/mcTu6lqdIl— Charles (@pizzatoolsx0) January 6, 2018
As opined by USA Today, doctors accused of sexually assaulting their patients typically do not have to deal with professional issues or public shame, much like most of the male public figures accused of sexual harassment and other related crimes in recent months. This may be because confidential settlements are as much a thing in the field of healthcare as they are in the worlds of entertainment and politics, said clinical psychologist Jim Hopper in an interview with USA Today.
The special report also quoted plaintiffs’ attorney Patrick Malone, who said that confidential settlements like the ones involving Ryan Williams and his former employers at the Cleveland Clinic are bigger issues than usual in healthcare, as it is the “ultimate wrong” for doctors to sexually violate their patients.
“These things never happen on one occasion. At least some aspect of the settlement — but not necessarily the dollar amount — should be public to make sure it’s not going to happen to someone else,” said Malone.