25 Investigates: Doc facing charge for groping coworker at North Shore hospital

By: Eric Rasmussen , Erin Smith

Updated:

A North Shore cardiologist accused of sexually assaulting a female coworker at a Partners HealthCare hospital continued to stay on the job and see patients – even after police filed a criminal charge against him, 25 Investigates has learned.

Bhagwan D. Gupta, 67, of Swampscott was expected to be arraigned Friday for indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over, but his appearance in court was pushed back to Dec. 22 after a request from his attorney, according to court records.

Law enforcement filed the charge against Gupta on Nov. 21 and he was issued a summons to appear in Lynn District Court, according to court records.

Gupta is associated with North Shore Medical Center Union Hospital in Lynn, which is part of the Partners HealthCare system, and also has an office in Lynnfield.

Gupta was still seeing patients when Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen stopped by his office Thursday. Gupta’s photo, credentials and contact information were also still listed on North Shore Medical Center’s online referral page this week and were only removed on Thursday – after 25 Investigates contacted the hospital system for comment on the criminal case.

“Upon learning of the complaint, we took immediate action to prevent the physician from any further practice at our facilities while the investigation is under way,” a hospital spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Outside of recent claims, there have been no similar complaints involving this physician made by any of our patients or employees.”

A spokeswoman also told 25 Investigates the employee reported the alleged assault to the hospital on Oct. 24. The hospital “took action that day to ensure that the physician would not practice at our facilities while the investigation is underway,” the spokeswoman said.

According to a police report, a 56-year-old woman showed up at the Lynn Police Department on Nov. 13 to report that she was sexually assaulted by Gupta, who is her coworker.

The victim told police she was working in the cardiac lab at North Shore Medical Center Union Hospital on the morning of Oct. 6 and preparing for her first patient when Gupta allegedly came up behind her and forcibly grabbed her breasts, according to a police report.

The victim reported to police that Gupta “pumped” or squeezed her breasts several times until she elbowed him in the stomach and yelled at him to stop.

The victim reported Gupta left the office after the alleged assault and didn’t return until the first patient was in the chair for the appointment, according to police reports. Police also interviewed the victim’s therapist, who reported the victim disclosed the alleged assault to her, court records show.

Gupta did not respond to multiple requests for comment at his office and home on Thursday.

Gupta’s lawyer, John P. Morris, later called 25 Investigates on behalf of his client to deny the charge against him and make a number of accusations against the victim.

“The woman working at Union Hospital who made the allegations has mental health issues,” said Morris, pointing to a detail in the police report that she has a therapist. “Dr. Gupta vehemently denies what these allegations are. The allegations have been exaggerated from what she told human resources. Dr. Gupta is an upstanding cardiologist. He’s never had any complaints against him. He vehemently denies anything that happened between him and this woman.”

Morris also told 25 Investigates he believes the victim made the accusation due to the planned closure and sale of Union Hospital in two years.

“If she makes a claim of sexual harassment, Partners can’t fire her,” said Morris. “This person is attacking an upstanding doctor. Why didn’t they (police) talk to any other people or check surveillance video? They did zero investigation.”

25 Investigates shared Morris’ statements with a hospital spokeswoman, who declined to respond to the attorney’s claims.

A hospital spokeswoman said in the statement provided to 25 Investigates, “North Shore Medical Center works diligently to provide a safe and supportive environment for our staff and patients and takes very seriously any allegations of sexual misconduct. We are conducting a thorough investigation into the recent claim.”

Gupta has been a member of the medical staff at Union Hospital for 38 years, according to the spokeswoman. The spokeswoman also described him as a physician with a private practice who periodically performed diagnostic testing at the Lynn hospital.

Gupta has been a licensed doctor in Massachusetts since 1979, according to records at the state’s Board of Registration in Medicine.

The hospital system did not report the criminal charge against Gupta to the state medical board because Union Hospital was waiting until it finished its own internal investigation, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The state’s medical board did not respond to a question about whether the it planned to take action against the doctor’s license.

BORIM Executive Director George Zachos said in an emailed statement, “When the Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM) learns of serious allegations of misconduct by a physician, we take immediate steps to ensure patient safety.  BORIM does not confirm or deny if it has open complaints or investigations.”

The board’s regulations require it to investigate complaints against doctors and that process can include hearings. But BORIM’s rules also allow the board to suspend a license before any hearings if there is “an immediate and serious threat” to “public health, safety, or welfare.”

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