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Two women have filed a lawsuit claiming that a doctor at Coffee Creek Correctional facility sexually assaulted them during mandatory gynecological examinations.


The suit — brought by one former inmate of the facility and one current inmate — alleges that Dr. Robert W. Snider was permitted to treat female inmates without visual supervision by an attendant and that some of the actions he took during exams were “non-therapeutic and highly irregular” and conducted in an “offensive manner.”

Snider and 13 other Department of Corrections employees are named in the suit, including former Coffee Creek Superintendent Heidi Steward. In addition to the claims of sexual assault, the plaintiffs allege that their civil rights were violated.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Betty Bernt says that the lawsuit is without merit.

“Based on the results of the investigation, ODOC categorically denies that Dr. Snider engaged in the wrongdoing alleged in the lawsuit,” she said in an email. “This matter has now been referred to the Oregon Department of Justice for defense.  ODOC and Dr. Snider will not have any further comment due to pending litigation.” 

Snider started working for the Oregon Department of Corrections in 2006 and is still employed by the department, Bernt said.

In applying for an Oregon medical license in 2003, according to documents, Snider reported that he had signed an agreement with the state of New York’s medical board in 1999 prohibiting him from administering intravenous therapies, except in facilities licensed by that state.

The prohibition on administering intravenous drugs, documents show, stemmed from charges of 34 instances of misconduct in New York, ranging from negligence and incompetence to not maintaining patient records. Snider contested the bulk of the more serious allegations, leaving only allegations of improper advertising or solicitation and failing to maintain patient records uncontested.

The plaintiffs in the suit are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney’s fees and an injunction prohibiting Snider from performing gynecological exams without an attendant watching the procedure.

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