Clackamas County DA, patients' attorneys trade barbs over handling of Farley investigation
In the eyes of the plaintiffs, the investigation was botched at every level. The district attorney, meanwhile, says the fault lies with the plaintiffs and their attorneys for not providing all of the information they'd been asked for.
The fallout from a grand jury's decision earlier this month not to charge former West Linn doctor David Farley, who has been accused of sexual abuse and assault by dozens of former patients, has turned into a war of words after a request was sent to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to take up the case.
The alleged victims of former doctor David Farley and their attorneys lambasted Clackamas County District Attorney John Wentworth Wednesday, Sept. 21, a day after he issued a written response to criticism of his office's handling of the sexual abuse case against Farley.
In a conversation with Pamplin Media Group, three women who initially reported Farley's abuse to the West Linn Police Department in 2020 were joined by their attorneys to delve further into what they believed to be a multitude of missteps by WLPD and the DA's office.
The women are among 71 of Farley's former patients who recently asked Rosenblum to take up their case after the investigation by WLPD and the DA's office did not lead to charges against the former doctor. The 71 former patients, including four minors, publicly released their letter to the attorney general Sept. 20.
Several critical details of how WLPD and the DA's office handled the case are now in dispute between Wentworth, the victims and their attorneys. Wentworth released a statement calling out what he believed were inaccuracies in the victims' letter to Rosenblum.
"The handling of this case was never negligent, nor inconvenient," Wentworth wrote in the statement. "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."
John Manly, one of the attorneys representing the alleged victims, hit back with a statement of his own Wednesday, Sept. 21.
"We have represented literally thousands of victims and interacted with dozens of law enforcement agencies," Manly said. "Except for the FBI in the (USA Gymnastics doctor Larry) Nassar case, we have never encountered a law enforcement agency or a prosecutor more hostile, indifferent & disinterested to the plight of victims."
One of the women who spoke to Pamplin Media Group, Nicole Snow, said Farley's alleged victims "were gaslighted and undermined" by the prosecutors and WLPD every step of the way.
One seemingly simple element of the case now in dispute is the number of women who reported abuse to West Linn police.
Several of Farley's alleged victims and one other person involved in the case told Pamplin Media Group that Deputy District Attorney Sarah Dumont told them multiple times that over 200 former patients reported abuse. According to Lisa Pratt, one of the women who first reported abuse by Farley to WLPD and one of the initial plaintiffs in a lawsuit that now includes over 120 alleged victims, Dumont told her that the three prosecutors working the case each had a stack of 70 victims who reported abuse. Wentworth, however, claims there were not 200 different reports of abuse, but has not provided a specific number of his own. He did not respond to a request for further clarification via email.
Pratt said she was "heartbroken" by the DA's fixation with the number 200, wondering if there were some magic number of victims that could have led to charges against Farley.
"I don't know how you can properly question me when you have no idea what I'm talking about."
A second seemingly simple, but now contested, fact of the case was the experience of WLPD Detective Tony Christensen. Christensen was the sole detective leading the investigation for WLPD and told at least four of the alleged victims he had no experience with sexual assault cases, according to Pratt, Snow and Katie Medley, another former patient. WLPD Chief Peter Mahuna said Christensen had worked sex crimes cases before, but none of this magnitude.
Pratt, Snow and Medley said Christensen was incompetent in his knowledge of sexual abuse.
Medley told Pamplin Media Group that Christensen lacked a basic understanding of female anatomy, asking her at one point what a speculum was. She, Pratt and Snow said Christensen never asked them any forensic questions and was visibly uncomfortable when they described the ways in which Farley allegedly abused them.
"I don't know how you can properly question me when you have no idea what I'm talking about," Medley said.
As one of the first women who reported abuse by Farley and went public with her story, Medley said she received calls from other alleged victims who cried about how poorly they were treated during interviews with Christensen.
"They had been invalidated. They wondered if they should even have come forward," Medley said. "And so, then Lisa and I, and Nicole — survivors ourselves — are comforting these women who are just being berated and belittled by the police."
According to Mahuna, Christensen worked weekends as a general assignment detective with the Portland Police Bureau for 12 years. During this time he investigated any case that came in, including sex cases, Mahuna said.
"He was also assigned here as a detective for almost a year prior to the Farley case starting. I'm sure a case of sexual abuse or sexual assault came in during that time period," Mahuna said. "I don't have any idea on the exact number of cases he worked."
Christensen was chosen to investigate the Farley case as the more experienced of WLPD's two detectives at the time. The other had only been a detective for about nine months, Mahuna said.
"Now that we're shining a bright light on the plethora of failures between West Linn PD and the DA, District Attorney John Wentworth wants to blame the victims' attorneys for a botched investigation."
According to the victims, what they saw as incompetence and belittling behavior did not stop with Christensen but persisted throughout the case.
Wentworth's news release stated that prosecutors were aided by two victims' advocates, a medical expert and child abuse expert, but Medley, Pratt and Snow said they did not work with experts at any point in the case.
Pratt did mention a victims' advocate from Clackamas County at one point sitting in on interviews with Christensen. However, she felt the advocate supported Christensen more than the victims.
"It felt like we were being teamed up against, instead of her being on our side," Pratt said.
According to Medley, Dumont's demeanor was similarly unhelpful.
"I got the subpoena, and the subpoena says to call your district attorney, who was assigned to your case, and they would prep you for testifying and everything," Medley said. "I had to call Sarah Dumont and when I called her, she couldn't remember anything about my case. And so then I have to continue to call her and track her down, and she wouldn't call me back, and when I did get a hold of her, she was just terrible on the phone and made me feel incredibly unnerved to testify in front of the grand jury. She just discounted my abuse on the phone and so then expected me to walk into the grand jury the next day."
Manly's responses to the claims of Wentworth's news release further highlight the alleged victims' frustration with the DA's office.
Both Manly and his colleague, Courtney Thom, who was a sex crimes prosecutor for 10 years, took Wentworth to task for his statement claiming the victims' lawyers did not respond to prosecutors' requests for evidence.
"Our clients and our legal team cooperated fully with the investigation and complied with every request from law enforcement," Manly stated.
Thom said it was the duty of the criminal justice system, meaning police and prosecutors, to investigate crimes of sexual assault.
"It's the absolute responsibility of law enforcement, and law enforcement solely, to investigate the crimes of sex abuse. They failed at that utterly," Thom said to Pamplin Media Group. "Now that we're shining a bright light on the plethora of failures between West Linn PD and the DA, District Attorney John Wentworth wants to blame the victims' attorneys for a botched investigation."
Manly also took issue with Wentworth's claim that "each reported victim with a colorable allegation of criminal misconduct testified before the grand jury under oath."
According to Manly and the alleged victims, less than half of the women and girls who reported abuse were asked to testify. Manly said the attorneys knew of people who reported their abuse to WLPD within the statute of limitations, but were not asked to testify.
In his statement, Wentworth said the DA's office executed search warrants for Farley's iCloud account and hard drive in search of "evidence of inappropriate photographs of children," but none were found. Manly questioned whether the contents seized through those warrants were ever viewed by WLPD or the DA's office. According to Manly, Christensen reported to the victims that the FBI simply told him "there is nothing there."
Wentworth and Manly also disagreed on the admissibility of evidence from the Oregon Medical Board, which led to the revocation of Farley's medical license. The medical board revoked Farley's license in 2020 for photographing the breasts and genitals of multiple underage girls with his cellphone and conducting invasive and medically unnecessary exams on underage girls without the presence of a chaperone.
Evidence from the medical board was not presented to the grand jury because Wentworth said it was not admissible. Manly disagreed.
Pamplin Media Group made a public records request to the medical board for correspondence between the board, DA's office and WLPD regarding this case. That request has not yet resulted in disclosure of records.
Tom D'Amore, one of the attorneys litigating the civil suit against Farley, said Dumont and Christensen gave him the impression from the start that they were uninterested in prosecuting a doctor.
"It's almost like these folks are 30 or 40 years back in time," D'Amore said. "It's just really a sad state of affairs in some prosecutors' offices, that they want to turn a blind eye because these cases are too hard to prosecute. But when you have this many women coming forward, it just really sends a horrible message to women and children out there who are sexually abused."
Despite the pain of the investigation process over the last two years, Pratt said, as a mom, she would report the abuse to police all over again if it meant a chance to get Farley off the streets.
"Even though it has been absolute hell, I would 100% do this again because I have to hope that somewhere down the line there's somebody who's willing to do the right thing," she said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.