Victims blast investigation of former West Linn doctor: 'We were not taken seriously'
This story has been updated from its original version.
Warning: The following article contains graphic accounts of sexual assault that may be distressing for some readers, especially victims of sexual abuse.
Seventy-one alleged victims of former West Linn doctor David Farley have asked Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to take up their case, stating their reports of sexual abuse were met with "a litany of incompetence and failures" by the West Linn Police Department and Clackamas County District Attorney's office. They describe these failures in a letter to Rosenblum dated Sept. 16.
Despite reports of abuse by dozens of Farley's former patients, the district attorney's office announced earlier this month that a grand jury declined to bring charges against him. According to the alleged victims, over 200 former patients have reported abuse. The district attorney's office disputes that number.
Though the grand jury declined to press criminal charges, many of the alleged victims are in the midst of a civil lawsuit filed nearly two years ago against Farley and the medical institutions they said he abused them at: Willamette Falls Medical Center, Legacy Meridian Park and West Linn Family Health Center. Farley opened West Linn Family Health Center in 1993, practicing there until he quietly retired in August 2020 and moved to St. Anthony, Idaho.
Detective Tony Christensen of the West Linn Police Department investigated the case and, according to the victims' letter, Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Sarah Dumont handled the case from the prosecutors' side.
The letter, signed by 71 former patients of Farley including four minors, asserted that Christensen "botched" the investigation while Dumont failed to seek justice "because it was too difficult."
"We deserve and demand justice," wrote the women and girls, who said they felt "betrayed" by both WLPD and the DA's office. "WLPD Detective Tony Christensen and the Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Sarah Dumont chose to ignore the obvious and repeatedly rebuked each one of us when we came forward to report our abuse."
When reached for comment, Christensen deferred to West Linn Police Chief Peter Mahuna. The West Linn Police Department hired Christensen in 2019 after he spent 28 years with the Portland Police Bureau.
"It is very important for the victims to know that we believed the allegations they brought to us.
I want you to know the WLPD takes all allegations of sexual assault seriously and investigates them to the best of our ability," Mahuna wrote in an email to Pamplin Media Group. "I'm sorry the victims feel our investigation did not meet their expectations. The decision of the grand jury should not be a measure of the amount of effort that was put into this investigation."
According to Mahuna, Christensen has previously investigated sexual assault cases, though none of this magnitude.
To learn more about the West Linn police investigation of Farley, Pamplin Media Group made a public records request for the police report. That request was recently denied and Pamplin Media is in the process of appealing the decision.
Dumont did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the DA's press release stated, "The handling of this case was never negligent, nor inconvenient. Three of this office's top prosecutors, all with significant sexual abuse prosecution experience, were assigned to this case, as well as three investigators and two victim advocates. We also retained a medical expert and a child abuse expert to assist the grand jury with its review."
According to the letter, when four women first reported their abuse to West Linn Police in 2020, Christensen refused to allow a female support person, or even a female officer, in the interview room with them.
After hearing stories of abuse from two women, Christensen said "this was too much emotionally for him to hear" and requested the other two come back the next day, the letter stated.
At least one alleged victim was allowed to talk with Christensen in the presence of a victim's advocate from the district attorney's office, and, according to the letter, this advocate was horrified by Christensen's handling of the situation.
"The interview was so poorly handled that the advocate called the survivor afterwards to apologize for how that survivor was treated," the letter stated. "The advocate told the survivor that she felt the way Detective Christensen conducted the interview was 'slimy,' and it made the advocate 'sick to her stomach.'"
One former patient of Farley's who spoke to Pamplin Media Group on the condition of anonymity said Christensen repeatedly dismissed her allegations.
When she told the detective that Farley performed a membrane sweep on her when she was seven months pregnant, Christensen told her that was a valid medical procedure, she said.
Membrane sweeping, a medical procedure to induce labor, involves a doctor placing their fingers inside the cervix and rotating them in a circular sweeping motion. The procedure is only performed when a woman is nearing full term in her pregnancy. Farley's former patient said that his membrane sweep caused her to go into labor more than two months early and give birth to her baby prematurely.
The letter also pointed out that the Oregon Medical Board found Farley's conduct — including photographing the breasts and genitals of underage girls on his personal cell phone — was enough to revoke his medical license. According to the victims, the medical board shared with Christensen the reports of abuse by Farley that led to his license revocation. The detective's response was "there is nothing there," according to the letter.
The letter also recounted how the former patients broke down when describing their abuse, including Farley's unnecessary inserting of his ungloved fingers in their vaginas and anuses, to Christensen. To this, Christensen responded that pressing charges against Farley would be difficult, according to the letter.
Dumont was similarly dismissive of victims' accounts of abuse, according to the letter.
Victims wrote that when they described the difference between Farley's ungloved digital penetration of patients and a legitimate pelvic exam, Dumont told them, "(you) are not a doctor."
"If that wasn't bad enough, when survivors shared that Farley digitally penetrated them without gloves, Ms. Dumont laughed and said, 'just because he didn't wear gloves, doesn't make that abuse,'" former Farley patient Lisa Pratt recounted in the letter. "Those statements are not only appalling, but also demonstrate an almost unbelievable indifference to the difficulty and trauma we, as survivors, experienced in describing our abuse."
The letter stated that Dumont continually maintained that the case "was difficult" because Farley was a doctor, even when victims reminded her he was no longer a doctor because his license was revoked.
"This statement was repeatedly made to us — when we painfully described our abuse, when we contacted the office for an update, when we met with members of the Clackamas County District Attorney before testifying at the Grand Jury, and even after we had testified," the letter said.
The former patients say Dumont failed to take into account previous cases of sexual abuse by doctors.
"DDA Sarah Dumont was apathetic and cold, and made many of us question why we even came forward to report our abuse in the first place," the letter stated. "DDA Sarah Dumont did nothing but belittle us and make us feel like we were an inconvenience, and foolish for speaking up."
Ultimately, the victims expressed frustration at Dumont's presentation of the case to the grand jury. They claimed that no evidence of child pornography, the offense for which the medical board revoked Farley's license and to which he admitted to the board, was presented to the grand jury.
"How can the fact that Farley photographed nude children and their genitals on his personal cell phone not result in one single crime — felony or even misdemeanor?" the victims wrote. "How can this evidence not be presented to the Grand Jury for their determination of Farley's sexual intent, motive, pattern, or practice of abuse?"
In a press release from the DA's office released Sept. 20, the office claimed it found no evidence of inappropriate photos of children when searching Farley's hard drive and iCloud account.
"Evidence of the Oregon Medical Board's conclusion is not admissible in a grand jury proceeding," the press release stated.
According to the victims' letter, the DA's office called less than half of those who reported abuse to testify before the grand jury. Dumont claimed this was because of the statute of limitations, but the letter pointed out that a 2015 Oregon Supreme Court case ruled that evidence of sexual abuse can be used in criminal proceedings when "a defendant touched a victim with a sexual purpose rather than accidentally."
The DA's office maintained that each "reported victim with a colorable allegation of criminal misconduct" testified before the grand jury.
A former criminal prosecutor now working with Manly, Steward & Finaldi, one of the law firms representing the victims in the civil case, chastised the DA's office's handling of the case.
"The negligence of Clackamas County District Attorney John Wentworth and his team is beyond comprehension," the attorney, Courtney Thom, stated in a press release issued with the letter.
The former patient who spoke to Pamplin Media Group on the condition of anonymity said she called Dumont to complain about Christensen's handling of the case but Dumont "talked over her" for the entire conversation.
Ultimately, the alleged victims felt the investigation was a failure.
"We not only deserved to have our cases thoroughly investigated, we also deserved the respect and full attention of those investigating our cases," the victims' letter stated. "Instead, from day one, our reports were dismissed, and we were not taken seriously by those responsible for our safety and protection."
This story will be updated.
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