Katie Medley, Lisa Pratt and Nicole Snow felt doubly betrayed when they read the letter from their doctor citing only “multiple personal circumstances” for his sudden retirement.
West Linn family physician David B. Farley wrote that he would miss each of his patients deeply and how they would “always be in my heart.”
Nothing in the Aug. 12 letter alerted patients that Farley was under investigation by the Oregon Medical Board or why.
Though the 62-year-old signed the letter “Dr. Farley,” six days earlier he had agreed to voluntarily give up his license after the medical board raised concerns about his “ability to safely and competently practice medicine” during its investigation.
The women filed their own complaint with the Oregon Medical Board in August alleging Farley conducted ungloved and unnecessary pelvic exams, fondled their breasts and done check-ups in his bedroom at home.
They discovered then that Farley had been under scrutiny by the board since late 2019, accused of conducting improper pelvic exams on minors. As that inquiry got underway, the board investigator learned the doctor also had taken photos of children’s genitals.
Medley, Pratt and Snow, speaking publicly for the first time this week, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that they’ve heard from dozens of other former patients and are now urging others to come forward.
They also are pushing police for a thorough criminal investigation, frustrated by the West Linn police response so far.
They called Farley a master manipulator who made them second-guess their discomfort and distress. All said they had to overcome their own sense of disbelief and humiliation to report Farley.
“None of the shame belongs on any of these survivors. It belongs on Dr. Farley,” Medley said.
The women said he treated them like family, so they tried to explain away their concerns: Farley was a longtime community doctor with a stellar education who they knew from church and who seemed to be a genuine and caring professional. Would he really violate their trust so thoroughly?
“You don’t question the off-putting things,” Pratt said, “because you think, ‘Well, he loves me. … He would never hurt me.'”
Medley, Pratt and Snow filed a civil lawsuit last month against Farley as well as his West Linn clinic and the hospitals where he worked, alleging Farley engaged in sexual abuse and battery and the places he worked were negligent in concealing his misconduct.
Farley moved this year with his family to Idaho. Neither he nor his lawyer, Karen O’Kasey, responded to repeated phone calls and emails. But Farley’s lawyer this month filed a motion to put the civil suit on hold as the criminal inquiry proceeds.
“Defendant Farley has a reasonable concern that any statements made or documents produced in this case may be used against him in a future criminal matter,” O’Kasey motion said. “Farley must invoke his right against self-incrimination and cannot respond to deposition questions, requests for admission, or requests for production, for fear that doing so could ‘provide a lead or clue’ to incriminating evidence for any potential criminal case.”
The women who sued want the Oregon Attorney General’s Office to take over the criminal investigation.
“There’s been no subpoena served. No search warrants performed,” said John Manly, their California-based attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases and represented the nearly 200 women who said they were abused by Larry Nasser, the doctor for the U.S. gymnastics team and Michigan State University athletes.
Manly called Farley’s case nearly a mirror image of the one that began against Nasser, convicted of molesting girls for years under the guise of giving them exams.
“You have a variety of people coming forward making reports and law enforcement literally doing almost nothing,” Manly said.
The Oregonian/OregonLive doesn’t normally identify alleged sex abuse victims but the women identified in this story said they wanted to come forward to make sure their former doctor is held accountable.
West Linn Acting Police Chief Peter Mahuna said the state medical board first told his agency of the sexual misconduct accusations against Farley on Aug. 24 and local police began investigating on Sept. 2.
The department first assigned one detective to the case but has added two more, Mahuna said. The Clackamas County Major Crimes Team is also available to help if needed, he said.
West Linn police have alerted the Oregon Department of Justice but haven’t sought its investigative support, Mahuna said.
“We are committed to doing the best investigation we can for everyone involved in this case,” he said. “If we need help, we will not hesitate to ask for it.”
The three women and their lawyers have said they were told by police and the medical board that the FBI also has been informed of the allegations. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t say if the FBI is involved in the case.
DELETED PHOTOS, SHREDDED FORMS
Farley’s retirement letter had been sent out to patients by the West Linn Family Health Center, where Farley practiced for nearly three decades after opening the office in 1993.
The letter was “certainly misleading,” said Nicole Krishnaswami, the state medical board’s executive director.
When Medley, Pratt and Snow went to the medical board with their complaint, they said they learned the board had received complaints in December 2019 accusing Farley of doing unnecessary pelvic exams on girls.
Board records don’t indicate who filed the initial complaint and board officials said the information is confidential.
“As a mother of three children myself, I was horrified and disgusted,” Pratt said. “There’s nothing more disturbing especially knowing he is hurting children. At that point, I just knew I wouldn’t stop until he was stopped.”
On Sept. 3, the board recommended disciplining Farley, alleging he violated the Medical Practice Act by engaging in sexual misconduct, providing medical treatment contrary to acceptable standards and repeatedly ordering unnecessary treatment and lab tests.
On Oct. 2, the board revoked Farley’s license and assessed a $20,000 civil penalty for dishonorable and unprofessional conduct and gross or repeated negligence. The revocation was reported to a national databank. Farley agreed to never reapply for his medical license in lieu of paying the fine.
The board found that Farley not only conducted unneeded Pap smears and pelvic and breast exams on adult patients, he did the procedures on young women under age 18 though medical guidelines since 2010 say most women should wait until 21 to have their first gynecological exams or Pap smears.
Farley also admitted that he took photos of the genitals and breasts of five patients, all under the age of 18, using his personal cellphone, according to board records.
He claimed to one parent that the photos were for a study to explain puberty and show sexual development over time, the board documents show. He told the board he provided consent forms for the minors’ parents to sign, but then couldn’t provide the records, saying he had deleted the photos from his phone and had shredded the consent forms, according to board documents.
The sanctions against Farley are the most severe the board can issue and show the board “takes sexual misconduct cases extremely seriously,” Krishnaswami said.
‘EVERYONE TRUSTED HIM’
Medley, Pratt and Snow describe a doctor whose credentials and standing in West Linn seemed unimpeachable.
Farley was a graduate of Harvard Medical School and built his practice to three more doctors that specialized in family medicine, gynecology and pediatrics. He also was well-respected in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he had been a bishopric member and stake high counselor, according to the Mormon Stories Podcast, a podcast hosted by an ex-Mormon.
Snow, now 29, said she was 15 when her mother started taking her to see Farley after she complained of chronic stomach pain. She continued to see him between ages 15 to 18. On at least five visits, he sexually abused her, she said.
Under the guise of seeking to relieve her constipation, he performed an ungloved rectal exam, she said. During other exams, he penetrated her vagina, wearing no gloves and fondled her breasts, she said.
Snow’s family belonged to the same church that Farley attended.
“I felt like everyone trusted him. Everyone adored him,” she said. “It took me many years later to realize what he was doing to me was wrong, and inappropriate and abuse.”
During one appointment shortly after she turned 18, Farley insisted on inserting an IUD under the pretense it would help her menstrual cycle become more regular, she said.
At another exam, he tore her hymen after digitally penetrating her under the guise of “stretching me out,” contending it would “ensure sex was more pleasurable” before she was to marry, she said.
Though she resisted, he told her “all women get it done” and shared with her the name of another woman who belonged to their church whose hymen he said he had recently broken, according to Snow.
Pratt, now 33, had moved to Oregon in July 2015 when she was pregnant with her third child and said a friend recommended Farley as a doctor.
She researched him, saw he had graduated from Harvard and that he was a member of their church.
She found Farley extremely kind and caring, giving her his cellphone number and texting her often to check on her.
The first red flag occurred when Pratt took her 2-week-old son to Farley for a newborn check-up in 2016. She was breastfeeding her son in the exam room when Farley barged in and, without consent, suddenly put his head on her breast, she said.
She pulled back instinctively.
Farley told her he was listening to hear if the baby was gulping the milk, she recalled.
“I remember thinking this is really weird,” she said.
Then Farley stuck his hand down her shirt, squeezing her breast, she said.
As time went on, she shrugged it off. She described Farley as a doctor who frequently gave hugs, talked about his family and their trips. Sometimes, he had her come to his home for check-ups he did in his bedroom, she said.
“He really creates this special relationship that makes you think you are family and that you have this special bond,” Pratt said. “He’s a master manipulator. His grooming skills are off the charts.
By 2018, after having Pap tests every year, Pratt showed up for an appointment and told the nurse she didn’t feel she needed another. She had so many and they’d all been fine. She said she’d read they should only be given every three to five years.
But Farley was put off, Pratt said, and insisted on doing the Pap smear, telling Pratt about a patient who died from cervical cancer. He spent five minutes pressuring her and she ultimately gave in, she said.
But then she looked for a new doctor.
“After that appointment, I just knew things aren’t right,” Pratt said.
MOVES TO IDAHO, KEEPS CALLING PATIENTS
Pratt began talking to other friends who had Farley as their doctor. One of them was Medley. They realized together they needed to act, they said.
Medley, now 32, had started going to Farley for care in 2016.
During a Sept. 6, 2019 exam, Medley said Farley penetrated her with no glove on, fondled her external genitals, made degrading comments to her and then hugged her at the end as she wore only a medical gown.
“I felt so uncomfortable,” she said. “I wanted to get out of there.”
“He blurred the lines between what was medically necessary and abuse so well that I didn’t know,” she said.
Medley said she was relieved to speak to the medical board’s investigator, Jason Carruth, who she said took her concerns seriously, was responsive and whose investigation led the medical board to take swift action against the longtime physician.
Medley and Pratt were both married with children when they had Farley as their doctor, had seen other doctors in the past and knew how gynecological exams should go.
Yet they said Farley still was able to deceive them.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this man that has delivered my child, he takes care of my kids, my children’s doctor, he’s my doctor, he was our family doctor — it was nowhere on my radar to think that I wasn’t safe,” Medley said.
After Farley sent out his retirement letter, he packed up and moved to St. Anthony, Idaho, where he has family.
But he continued to reach out to his former patients, they said.
He called Medley after his move.
“He said on the phone, ‘If you have any questions about anything, please just I’m happy to help you.’ And I said, ‘Do you mean medically?’ and he said, ‘Well, just anything, you know, I’m not going to change my phone number,”’ she recalled. “So he’s going through extensive steps to stay in contact with his previous patients.”
Medley, Pratt and Snow, who also reported Farley to West Linn police after they talked to the medical board, sought out civil lawyers when they said they became discouraged by what they saw as lack of police action. Medley had watched a documentary about the former Olympic gymnast physician Nassar and saw Manly in it and decided to contact him.
“I thought, ‘I wonder if he would help us? I know we’re a small town and it’s a small doctor,” Medley said.
Manly and Portland attorney Thomas D’Amore, classmates at Pepperdine University School of Law, signed on to the women’s case.
Six days after the women’s civil suit was filed against Farley, West Linn police issued a one-paragraph press release on Oct. 28, identifying a detective assigned to investigate.
Police asked anyone to contact the detective about “inappropriate contact or behavior” involving Farley. Police have declined to say how many people have contacted them.
“The reason that these brave women have come forward is they feel like nothing is happening, and children and women are still at risk because this guy’s loose,” Manly said.
He said the women “should not have to hire a personal injury lawyer to get justice from law enforcement,” Manly said.
But, he added, “It seems like that’s what you have to do.”