SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is investigating accusations that a Spring Valley doctor sexually assaulted his medical assistant.
Medical Assistant Sarah Shepherd tells us she’d been working with Dr. Hanid Audish at Encompass Medical Group for the past six years. Shepherd says the two were friends and their families would spend time together. She explains that she viewed him as a brother. Now she’s suing him and the medical group for sexual battery, among other complaints.
“I just kept saying ‘no’ and he wasn't super forceful but he wasn't letting it go,” says Shepherd of their encounter. Her hands were shaking during our entire interview, but she believes her story of what happened inside a Spring Valley medical plaza is worth sharing. There’s a photo of Dr. Audish on the medical group’s website. Shepherd also provided us with her photos of him that she says were taken at work parties.
The lawsuit describes "sexually assaultive and egregious behavior" that started after she told him she'd recently been tanning. “I went to show him my tan line because he was saying I didn't look tan and then I realized it would be inappropriate [because] it's too far down,” she explains.
The lawsuit reports that "Dr. Audish pulled the front of [her] pants down" to her underwear line and then "he pulled down her pants from behind". “Then he hit me on the bottom and bent me over the counter,” she adds. She says she pleaded for him to stop. “I said, ‘No, no, no. You have a wife and four kids.’ He said, ‘There's no cameras.’” She also says he told her, “I’m just a guy.” The lawsuit reads that he "tried to forcibly pull [her] into the bathroom" but she escaped.
After reporting it within days, Encompass Medical Group sent Shepherd a letter about reported misconduct. The letter was shared with 10News. It appears that the Executive Director wrote to Shepherd that she should never have been subject to abuse. It also appears that he wrote, in part, that “Dr. Audish admitted his guilt without excuse” and “he was and is very apologetic” and “remorseful”. The letter reports that the medical group would hold a special session to “decide formal disciplinary action”.
During a recorded phone interview with an investigator for the firm that’s representing Shepherd, Dr. Audish paints a different picture of what happened. The investigator is heard asking Dr. Audish if he pulled down the back of Shepherd’s scrubs, exposing her buttocks. Dr. Audish is heard responding, “No. She did it herself with her left side. All I did was just touch the right side of her buttock where the pants were still on.” He’s also heard saying, “The touching was about, literally, five seconds.” He’s heard describing that she smirked and said, “All guys are the same.” However, he claims it stopped there. The investigator asked if at any point he tried to pull her into the bathroom. Dr. Audish is heard saying, “No. None.”
A representative with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department wrote to 10News, “A report has been filed but due to the active nature of the case, we are not prepared to make a statement in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation.”
The attorney for both the doctor and the medical group says there's a more comprehensive investigation underway, but she declined to comment further on any pending litigation. She did say that Shepherd is still employed with Encompass Medical Group, although Shepherd says she has not been paid since the incident. Shepherd also says that a representative of the medical group notified her that she should turn in her keys and other work items.
Shepherd concludes, “I don't think he's sorry. I think he's sorry he got caught.”
San Diego's Gilleon Law Firm is representing Sheperd and has asked that if you have any information to provide, please contact the firm.