Former Virginia hospital medical director acquitted of sexually abusing ex-patients

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former medical director of a Virginia hospital that treats vulnerable children and young adults was acquitted Friday of sexually abusing two teenage patients during physical exams.

Dr. Daniel Davidow worked for decades as the medical director of the Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents, a facility that treats young patients with complex medical needs, including chronic illnesses, brain injuries and neurobehavioral disorders.

The charges against Davidow were decided by a judge instead of a jury. Judge B. Elliot Bondurant found Davidow not guilty of two counts of a felony indecent liberties charge and two counts of object sexual penetration, also a felony.

Davidow's attorney, Craig Cooley, said the not guilty verdict was “based on the evidence and the lack of credibility of the complainants.”

“He knew that this is what should happen and is very pleased that this is what did happen,” Cooley said.

“Nothing that happens will change the fact that the accusation alone besmirches somebody's character and their reputation, and he understands that he can't change people's response to an accusation, but we think this verdict is a vindication of sorts," Cooley said.

During a 4-day trial, prosecutors said Davidow used physical exams as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two female patients. Davidow and his attorneys vehemently denied any inappropriate conduct.

Cooley described Davidow, 71, as a dedicated physician committed to helping even the most difficult or medically complex children.

Cooley also raised concerns about the former patients’ motivations, noting that they are each seeking many millions of dollars in a pending civil proceeding against Davidow, the hospital and its parent company. In that case, dozens of former patients have accused him of inappropriate touching, allegations he also has denied.

The young women, who were teenagers when they were admitted to Cumberland, both testified, each saying Davidow groped their breasts and genitals during a physical exam as part of the admissions process.

“I teared up. I was in shock,” one woman told the court.

T. Scott Renick, the top prosecutor in New Kent County east of Richmond, where the hospital is located, said in his opening statement that the girls were in extremely vulnerable conditions, living without their parents or other caregivers at the residential facility that specializes in complex cases and sometimes takes patients from other states under court order.

Renick said that as the medical director for the hospital, Davidow “had complete control over them.”

Kevin Biniazan, an attorney who represents the two women in a civil lawsuit, said the women “knew they were fighting an institution, not just a man, and they were not deterred.."

“Our clients displayed true courage,” he said.

The Associated Press is not naming either woman because it generally does not identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted.

Virginia State Police began investigating staff at the hospital in October 2017, a spokeswoman has said.

Davidow is at least the third former Cumberland staffer to be charged with a crime in connection with a patient. A psychotherapist was charged with sexually abusing a patient and died by suicide the same day he was due in court for a plea hearing. A behavioral technician was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading no contest to an allegation that she intentionally burned a disabled child with scalding water.