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Grave Anatomy 

Wednesday, Jan 10 2007
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Sometimes an awful story just keeps getting worse. To wit: The University of California San Francisco Medical Center has settled a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed to have been sexually molested by a doctor (who later committed suicide) at UCSF's Moffitt-Long Hospital in 2002 while recovering from childbirth.

Neither the woman's attorney nor UCSF disclosed the terms of the settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement.

"She and her family just want to put this behind them," says Joel Siegal, the woman's lawyer.

The settlement closes an unpleasant chapter for the medical center involving the accused physician, the late Dr. Errol Robert Kolen, a neurosurgeon charged with sexual misconduct involving three patients at the hospital between September 2001 and October 2002.

Kolen, who was married and the father of an infant daughter, committed suicide at a motel in Ukiah, Calif., in April 2005. The 34-year-old doctor had pleaded not guilty and was free on bail.

The case raised questions about how quickly UCSF had responded to earlier accusations against the doctor.

According to court records, a 16-year-old female patient accused Kolen of giving her sleep-inducing drugs and fondling her twice in September 2001. In September 2002, another alleged victim, in the hospital to deliver a baby, complained that Kolen had drugged and sexually molested her. But it wasn't until a third complaint, in October 2002, from the woman whose lawsuit was settled, that the doctor was placed on leave.

Although state law requires that hospitals notify the state medical board within 15 days of such suspensions, the Medical Board of California said it didn't learn of Kolen's "investigatory leave" until the following January.

However, Candis Cohen, a spokeswoman for the medical board, says that "there was not enough evidence to proceed against UCSF," and that no sanctions were taken against the hospital.

Jim Collins, the late doctor's former criminal attorney, called Kolen "one of the brightest young men I ever had the privilege of knowing. What happened was an absolute tragedy."

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Ron Russell

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