AUGUSTA — A physician denied a license to practice in Maine partly because female patients at MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer unit in Waterville had complained about his alleged inappropriate sexual conduct three years ago is being sued by several of those women.

The physician, Mohammad Aljanaby, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who worked a six-week assignment, from July 16, 2012, to Aug. 30, 2012, in a pain clinic at the hospital.

In the civil lawsuits, filed in Kennebec County court by attorneys Sumner Lipman and Caleb Gannon, the plaintiffs are a 53-year-old woman from Augusta, a 52-year-old woman from Avon, a 36-year-old woman from Wilton and her 55-year-old mother, who lives in the Oxford County town of Mexico.

The Kennebec Journal’s policy is not to publish identities of victims of alleged sexual assaults.

The defendants in the complaint are listed as Aljanaby; MaineGeneral Medical Center; and Vista Staffing Solutions Inc., of Salt Lake City, Utah. The complaints say the hospital and the staffing agency were negligent in supervising the doctor in his interactions with patients and in checking his credentials.

In the complaints, the women say Aljanaby held them close to his body, sometimes caressing them under their clothing or after having them disrobe, and in several instances kissed them and viewed or touched their genitals, all without their permission, while he was supposed to be treating them at the clinic.

Aljanaby, who now lives in Bristol, Connecticut, and practices in New Britain and West Hartford, Connecticut, was placed in the Waterville hospital on temporary assignment through the staffing agency Vista Staffing Solutions Inc. He obtained a temporary license to practice medicine in Maine while his application for a permanent license was pending.

It was later denied on the basis of incompetence, unprofessional conduct and sexual misconduct, according to the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine.

Aljanaby, who didn’t return phone messages left at his CMA Physical office in New Britain, has held a physician’s license in Connecticut since March 2004. There are no records of disciplinary action against him in Connecticut.

He is represented in the Maine court proceedings by attorney Daniel Gibson, who spoke for both of them.

“Dr. Aljanaby is aware of the allegations that have been made against him, which he considers baseless, and is eagerly anticipating clearing his name when he has his day in court,” Gibson said via email. “We will have no further comment on this case, as we believe publicizing it is, in fact, emotionally, psychologically and professionally detrimental to all parties involved.”

Lipman, representing the female plaintiffs, said in a recent interview that his clients were particularly vulnerable because they had come to the hospital clinic seeking renewals of medications used to treat pain and they were instead subjected to sexual advances by Aljanaby.

“The real losers here are these people,” Lipman said. “These people trusted him.”

Lipman said Aljanaby carefully chose his victims by seeking those who might have credibility problems because of prior problems involving drugs or post-traumatic stress disorder, or those who had been abused previously.

“He knew they were vulnerable,” Lipman said.

MaineGeneral has taken the position that because Aljanaby was a temporary employee, the hospital should not be responsible for his alleged actions. Lipman rejects that argument, saying: “He’s treating these people as patients of that hospital.”

One of lawsuits says MaineGeneral Medical Center “did intentionally embark upon a course of conduct to contract for the services of defendant Aljanaby” as a temporary physician even as it later denied responsibility for him.

The complaints also allege medical negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, negligent credentialing and supervision; and they seek punitive damages. “When the doctor tells you to undress, what do you do?” Lipman asked. “Then you’ve got this deviant behavior.”

The lawsuits were filed several years ago but were placed under seal until they could be reviewed by a medical malpractice panel. Since all the parties recently waived the panel’s review, the amended complaints are now public court documents.

COMPLAINT DETAILS

According to the complaint involving the Augusta woman, on Aug. 1, 2012, Aljanaby was standing opposite her in an examination room when he grabbed her, pinned her head against his chest and began swaying around the examination room, telling her, “Don’t worry, you’re going to be OK.”

Then, two weeks later, on Aug. 15, 2012, he allegedly had her strip to her underwear and lay on the examination table, where he “stood behind her, reached out and pulled the plaintiff’s underwear down exposing her genital area,” and stared at it.

The complaint filed on behalf of the Avon woman said that she was treated by Aljanaby on Aug. 29, 2012, because her regular physician was unavailable.

The woman said Aljanaby massaged her back and the backs of her legs, and “then asked her to disrobe and put on a gown” and lay face down on an examining table. She said she quickly turned over when he spread the cheeks of her buttocks and then started kissing her, putting his hand between her legs.

She said she got up immediately and started to dress, and he asked her to meet him that night, giving her his cellphone number.

“The plaintiff took the number and made no statement as she was anxious to get away from Dr. Aljanaby and she did not want to expose herself to further assaults,” the complaint states.

Another complaint involves a mother from Mexico who was a patient at the clinic and whose daughter accompanied her to a treatment session with Aljanaby on Aug. 28, 2012.

The mother said Aljanaby had her stand in front of him while he ran his hands along her body and pressed against her. At one point the mother said Aljanaby “began to thrust his pelvic area into and against the plaintiff’s rear end” and became aroused.

The mother’s complaint also says Aljanaby called her, asking her to meet him in his hotel room, tried to call seven or eight more times, and eventually called from a different phone number to try to reach her when she stopped answering.

The daughter, who was not a patient, said Aljanaby asked her to stand, pressed himself against her back and then “reached under her shirt and caressed the sides of her torso from her bra line down to her hips.”

“At no time did defendant Aljanaby request permission before initiating said contact and at no time did the plaintiff consent to said contact,” the complaint states, adding that Aljanaby asked both women what there was “to do for fun in the area” and invited both to his hotel room.

HOSPITAL DENIES

That complaint indicates that an email dated Aug. 22, 2012, from Vista to the hospital, says Aljanaby’s employment at MaineGeneral “was to be terminated prematurely at the end of August 2012,” and that by the Aug. 28, 2012, visit, both the hospital and Vista “knew or should have known that the defendant Aljanaby engaged in inappropriate conduct with females in the course of his employment.”

The daughter’s complaint is the only one that does not allege medical malpractice.

In a Dec. 11, 2014, response to that complaint in court, the attorney representing MaineGeneral, Jennifer Rush, wrote that the hospital “denies the allegation that it had any knowledge of wrongdoing by Dr. Aljanaby prior to Aug. 29, 2012, or the reason Dr. Aljanaby was leaving MaineGeneral was because the hospital had reason to believe that he would engage in inappropriate behavior with women.” Rush sought dismissal of the complaint.

Last week, Rush responded via email to questions about lawsuits relating to Aljanaby filed against the hospital by writing: “Any readers (of the newspaper) should be assured that the health and safety of its patients is MGMC’s top priority. MGMC takes all patient complaints seriously, and takes a firm stance against any conduct that is inappropriate or otherwise violates the boundaries of a patient-physician relationship.”

And in a response filed with the court with regard to the daughter’s complaint, Vista Staffing Solutions Inc., through attorney Wendell G. Large, denies many of the allegations and says the company lacks information about others. The response also lists defenses, saying the women failed to mitigate damages and that the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations.

It also says, “The acts complained of in this complaint were committed, if at all, by persons for whom this defendant is not legally responsible.”

Lipman and Gannon said they are seeking the identities and whereabouts of three additional women who complained directly to the hospital about their treatment by Aljanaby. Lipman said the attorneys learned about those incidents by reading complaints to the board that regulates physician licenses in Maine.

Lipman said he is concerned that those women will lose an opportunity to sue because of the three-year statute of limitations for filing malpractice claims.

According to Lipman, one woman said she yelled aloud after Aljanaby allegedly pushed his fingers into her buttocks on Aug. 24, 2012; another woman said he rubbed his body up against her several times on Aug. 27, 2012, then asked her to meet him later. The woman said that after she rejected Aljanaby’s requests, he took her cellphone and programmed his number into it in case she changed her mind.

The third unidentified woman told hospital officials that Aljanaby put his arm around her and hugged her after giving her a hospital gown to cover her shoulders when she said she was cold.

In an October 2014 letter to Aljanaby, the Maine Board of Licensure formally denied his application for a permanent license to practice in Maine, citing “information received from MaineGeneral Medical Center reporting alleged incidents of unprofessional conduct involving female patients” during his temporary assignment at the hospital, as well a failure to pass a step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination within three attempts.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams