Jane Doe S.P. was a 19-year-old college student and newly engaged in 2008 when she booked an appointment for a “premarital exam.” Such visits are unique to heavily Mormon Utah, can be similar to a first annual gynecology checkup, and are meant to establish a relationship with an OB-GYN before marriage and having sex for the first time.
“I had heard that women go to the doctor before they get married and get birth control,” Jane, who is identified in the lawsuit as ‘Jane Doe S.P.,’ told The Daily Beast in an interview. “I don’t think I knew what to expect.” Jane decided to see Dr. David H. Broadbent, a gynecologist within walking distance of her Provo apartment complex and whose office accepted her parents’ insurance.
But she claims nothing could prepare her for what she experienced in his office: unexpected, painful, and medically unnecessary breast, vaginal, and rectal exams. Jane is one of at least 83 people to accuse Broadbent of conducting these exams—without consent, and sometimes even after women told him they didn’t want them—allegedly for his own sexual gratification.
According to two recently filed lawsuits, Broadbent’s alleged sexual abuse spanned four decades, and some of the women were as young as 14 when he allegedly assaulted them.
The accusers are not only suing Broadbent, but two hospitals where he worked: Utah Valley Hospital and Mountainstar Healthcare. After the accusations made headlines, both hospitals cut ties with Broadbent and he was forced into retirement.
The complaints allege sexual battery, sexual assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Broadbent, and negligent supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress against MountainStar and Utah Valley Hospital, whose parent company is Intermountain Healthcare (IHC). The suits also include causes of action for fraudulent misrepresentation and joint venture against all the defendants.
“Multiple formal and informal complaints were made of Broadbent’s acts of sexual abuse, but neither IHC or MountainStar properly responded,” an amended complaint alleges. “In fact, formal complaints made it all the way to the Chief Administrator and Chief Medical Officer at Utah Valley Hospital, and yet, over a decade later, IHC was still referring women to go see Broadbent at his private clinic.”
In a statement, MountainStar Healthcare said, “We sympathize with and fully support any individuals in the recently filed lawsuit who may have experienced this alleged behavior at the physician’s private clinic in Provo. Like hundreds of other physicians who practice privately in our community, this physician is not employed by any MountainStar hospital. The physician is not currently authorized to see patients at our facility. Over the years, this physician has seen a small number of patients at one of our facilities each year; however, to our knowledge, there were no allegations of inappropriate conduct reported to our facility regarding this physician.
“While we empathize with the people involved, we believe we were inappropriately named in this lawsuit and we will defend ourselves accordingly.”
IHC didn’t return messages left by The Daily Beast. A spokesperson for the hospital system previously provided a statement indicating Broadbent was an independent physician and not an employee of Utah Valley Hospital. “When the hospital learned of this lawsuit, Dr. Broadbent’s privileges to deliver babies or provide any other services at the hospital were immediately suspended,” the spokesperson said. “We take these allegations very seriously and are committed to ensure the safety of our patients.”
According to one lawsuit filed in Utah state court, Broadbent abruptly reached up Jane’s gown and grabbed her breasts after he entered the room. Then, as “Jane Doe S.P. tried to convince herself this must be normal, Broadbent, again with no warning or explanation, stuck his fingers in her vagina,” the complaint alleges.
“As if that was not bad enough, Broadbent then caught her completely off guard when he suddenly shoved his fingers into her anus for a rectal exam, causing her extreme pain,” the filing continues, adding that as Jane winced in pain, the doctor said nothing. When the exam was over, however, Broadbent told her something that made her stomach turn. “Well, your husband is a lucky man,” he allegedly said.
Court papers allege Broadbent made similar comments to other patients, telling one accuser, “Your fiancé is pretty lucky to get to have sex with a girl like you,” and complimenting another woman’s “pretty pink” vagina, and a third patient’s “nice legs.” He allegedly told a fourth: “You’re so attractive that your fiancé won’t be able to help himself on your wedding night even if you’re on your period.” A fifth woman says Broadbent, after inserting his entire finger into her rectum, announced, “I bet your boyfriend really likes those tan lines.”
Even worse, a sixth woman says he leaned his face toward her vagina for a long time and declared, “Everything smells okay,” before massaging parts of her vulva. A lawsuit says Broadbent quizzed her about her sexual history, saying he didn’t believe she was a virgin. The doctor “told her that a lot of young Mormon women came in lying to their husbands about their sexual activity but he could always tell who was lying,” the filing states.
The survivors are represented by Salt Lake City firm Gross & Rooney. One of their attorneys, J. Adam Sorenson, said, “We are proud to represent the 83 women in this case who bravely came forward and told their stories, and we hope we can help them obtain justice against Broadbent and against the institutions, Intermountain Health Care and HCA, who failed to stop him, even when formal complaints were made.”
Sorenson told The Daily Beast that his firm continues to receive calls from former patients and knows “of a number of other claims that will be filed in the near future.”
After Jane Doe S.P. shared her story on a podcast in December 2021, dozens of other women contacted her to say Broadbent had abused them, too. Four of them decided to file a lawsuit in February, and the number of women suing the OB-GYN grew to 50 in an amended complaint filed in March. Last month, 33 other women filed a second lawsuit against Broadbent.
Meanwhile, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Provo Police Department has 12 active investigations related to Broadbent. The Tribune unearthed these cases through a public records request, though cops have declined to comment.
Some women, including Jane Doe S.P., say they filed complaints with the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) in recent months. Zach Whitney, a spokesperson for the agency told The Daily Beast that under state law, “we are not able to confirm nor deny the existence of complaints filed against individual businesses or professionals unless administrative action has been taken.”
Broadbent, now 74, denies any wrongdoing. His attorney, Karra Porter, told The Daily Beast that he’s had thousands of clients over his 40-year career and was blindsided by the accusations, which she says may have been sparked years later by the power of suggestion. She said that after hearing the podcast, some women may view their visits in a different light. “I have concerns about people who say they didn’t realize or didn’t know they’d been assaulted until the suggestion was made to them,” she said.
“Once it was suggested to all these people, once lawyers started advertising for clients, is that a MeToo movement or is that lawyers drumming up clients?” Porter continued, adding that the women’s firm circulated a Facebook ad that read: “If you or your loved ones have been sexually abused by Dr. David H. Broadbent, you may be entitled to compensation.”
“Someone’s career has been destroyed without any opportunity to even tell his side of the story,” Porter said. “I really have problems with that. Our country is founded on people being able to tell both sides of the story. What is the number one trial sensation going on right now: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. I think people should be able to have their day in court before their entire life’s career is destroyed.”
Still, some Google Reviews of Broadbent over the years offered clues that patients believed he behaved inappropriately with them. “I was about 20 years old, pregnant with my first had no idea what I was doing I had a lot of questions so I just wanted to go in and chat with an OB,” one woman wrote three years ago, adding, “the first thing he does is lay me down on the table as I am asking my questions and immediately putes [sic] his hands up my shirt. It shocked me! A little warning would have been nice.”
“Now 7 years later I'm reading reviews on him,” she wrote. “Looks like im not the only one mistreated and inappropriately touched by him.”
The accusations contained in the lawsuits against Broadbent are deeply disturbing and include claims that he performed some of these exams without gloves and without nurses in the room, even when a chaperone was requested. Some women said he let his hands linger during vaginal exams without explaining what he was doing.
Three patients say Broadbent groped them when they were hospitalized in connection to their pregnancies; two of those women say they complained to hospital staff, apparently with little result. One woman described “feeling flustered and confused because she came in because her water broke and yet Broadbent walked in and went straight for her breasts.”
Broadbent allegedly conducted vaginal examinations even when they didn’t appear to be medically necessary. One former patient alleges that during “multiple appointments for birth control, irregular periods, etc., Broadbent would insert his pointer and middle finger in her vagina without any warning or explanation.” He also “would suddenly insert a finger in [her] rectum, making her feel uncomfortable and violated,” before taking off his gloves and touching her breasts. He allegedly made comments about her being “well endowed.”
Another patient, who was not sexually active, said Broadbent painfully shoved his fingers into her vagina during an appointment to address heavy menstrual bleeding and told her that she would “please her future husband.” The woman says that after a medical assistant walked into the room, Broadbent remarked, “You can tell she is a virgin by the way she acts when this happens” before repeating his so-called examination again.
At least three patients were 14 years old and pregnant when Broadbent allegedly abused them. One woman recalls that during most of her appointments with Broadbent, he allegedly “inserted two or three fingers in her vagina and took his time feeling around for what felt like a long time.” Later, when Broadbent delivered her baby, he “put his whole hand in her vagina, claiming to be checking for pieces of the placenta,” a complaint alleges. “He then made a comment to her boyfriend that he did the ‘husband stitch’ for him while sewing her up.”
A second woman says she was 14 when she started seeing Broadbent and that each time he had her “remove her clothes from the waist down, place her feet in stirrups for a vaginal exam, and while putting his fingers in her vagina, rammed his fingers into her rectum with no warning or lubrication.” He would then “put his hands up her shirt.”
“To this day, [she] has trust issues, anxiety, and nightmarish memories of her appointments with Broadbent,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuits detail multiple instances where Broadbent allegedly abused his young and naive female patients even when their husbands were present. Indeed, an amended complaint notes that Broadbent’s office was one block from Brigham Young University freshman dorms and apartment complexes for female students at BYU and Utah Valley University.
“For years, Broadbent conducted this scheme from his University Avenue office, feet from thousands of young women with little or no prior experience with OB/GYN appointments—who had no understanding of what was ‘normal’ or medically necessary—and used his profession and their innocence to prey on them,” an amended complaint states.
In Jane Doe S.P.’s case, Broadbent allegedly instructed her to stretch out her vagina in preparation for her honeymoon. If she experienced any bleeding during sex, he allegedly told her, she should “just do what the Boy Scouts do and apply pressure.”
“It was just really weird and damaging,” Jane told The Daily Beast. “I left the exam feeling like an object for my husband to enjoy and that he’s a lucky man who now gets to own me … It was a traumatic way to start my sexuality and my intimate relationship with my spouse.”
Years later, after Jane visited other doctors, she realized that her encounter with Broadbent was likely assault. “I blamed myself. I thought, ‘You should have known what to expect. He is the authority. Obviously he knows what’s best for you,’” she said.
“I thought he was creepy, then, over time, I realized what he did was abnormal,” she added. “It wasn’t until after the podcast, when I read the comments labeling it as an assault and digital rape, that I fully realized what happened to me.”
Jane, who left the Mormon church two years ago, says she regrets not standing up for herself sooner or in the moment. “A lot of that had to do with just societal norms in general around respecting authority,” she said. “There was this whole other layer for me. I was raised in this religion where I was taught these men are in authority, they speak to God, they have authority over me. I’m supposed to have unquestioning obedience to them.”
“When there’s this man in a position of authority, I believe he clearly knows what’s best for me and if I take any issue with it, there must be a problem with me,” she added.
Another former patient, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Beast she saw Broadbent in spring of 2007 when she was 25. She was having trouble getting pregnant, she said, and found Broadbent on a list of providers covered by her insurance. “As he did the Pap smear and breast exam, he told me my husband was a lucky man, which I felt really uneasy about,” the woman said. “I even told a few people later and they were all disturbed.”
“He also gave me a fertility medication and when describing that we need to have sex at ovulation, he told me to ‘rape my husband’ and then proceeded to tell me ‘don’t worry, he will like it,’” she added. The former patient says she felt violated by Broadbent. “To be in a position of vulnerability with someone who is supposed to ‘do no harm’ and have them use their authority to do this is so disturbing,” she said.
“I wish I had trusted my gut. I knew something wasn’t right and now wish I had followed that instinct,” the woman told us. “After that experience, I only saw female gynecologists and all my babies were delivered by female midwives. I felt much more comfortable with a woman handling that kind of care.”
As more former patients come forward, attorneys on both sides are arguing on whether the lawsuits should proceed. Court records show the parties requested oral arguments, which are scheduled for June 16.
Broadbent’s lawyers argue that the court lacks jurisdiction over the women's claims because they’re “medical malpractice” cases. They say that under state law, the women would be required to provide a “notice of intent” to sue with the state DOPL and “participate in a non-binding but compulsory pre-litigation hearing before filing suit.” (Mountainstar Healthcare and Utah Valley Hospital, in their own filings, made the same argument.)
Attorneys for the patients , however, said in one pleading that the law, known as the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act, “was not created to act as a shield behind which serial sexual abusers can hide—or behind which the facilities who profit from, and fail to stop, the abuser can hide.”
“Broadbent’s acts of sexual abuse were not health care,” they added. “They were acts deserving of an orange jumpsuit, not the protection of a white coat.”
“If there was still any doubt about whether sexual abuse is health care,” the filing continues, “it can easily be erased by asking a few simple questions: Is demonstrating the ‘size of a man’s penis,’ saying ‘watch this,’ and then sticking those three fingers in a woman’s vagina, causing her to cry, and asking how it feels, health care? Is asking a woman if she needs a minute to get ready to be assaulted before digitally penetrating her vagina health care?”
Broadbent’s lawyers, in a filing last week, maintained that the doctor was doing his job and “it is not reasonable to infer that an OB/GYN has no medical purpose to examine the breasts, vaginas, and rectums of his patients other than his own sexual gratification.”
“Most Plaintiffs did not think they had been sexually abused until Plaintiff Jane Doe S.P. complained about her experience with Dr. Broadbent on a podcast and characterized his examination of her as sexual abuse,” they argued.
Jane Doe S.P. told The Daily Beast that she soon learned that women had reported Broadbent’s alleged misconduct through different avenues over the years, to hospital administrators and to DOPL, but he continued to practice medicine until the lawsuit was filed.
One married couple, Sam and Bonnie, told The Daily Beast that they reported Broadbent to DOPL in 2018, almost a year after their appointment with him. “They ultimately said they didn’t have enough evidence to take any action on his license, but it did end in an informal conversation which I think was the equivalent of a slap on the hand to the doctor,” Bonnie said. The couple, who asked to be identified only by first name, also left negative Google reviews.
“But the person who did the investigation from DOPL basically summed Dr. Broadbent’s behavior up to just bad bedside manner and being in the profession for such a long time that he’s lost his touch with people skills,” she continued. “I wrote back and said I think that’s totally missing the mark, I think this guy is dangerous.”
Then recent BYU grads, Bonnie and Sam said they visited Broadbent because they were having trouble getting pregnant and wanted a doctor to answer their questions. Broadbent, they claimed, ignored their queries and went on tangents about menstrual cramps and his wife’s vaginal health. “I remember thinking, ‘What in the world? Why are you talking about this?’” Bonnie recalled.
When they finally got him to address their fertility issues, Broadbent instructed Bonnie to lay on a table and he conducted a vaginal exam quickly without explaining what he was doing or why he was doing it. He then announced he wanted to do a Pap smear, but Bonnie was adamant that she didn’t need one. “We knew that what he was trying to do wasn’t necessary,” Sam said. “We weren’t doctors but we knew enough to know it wasn’t necessary.”
“We got nothing out of that visit,” Sam continued. “He got what he wanted, which was to put his fingers up someone’s vagina.”
Bonnie said the experience impacted her so much that she no longer trusts male doctors and continued to monitor Broadbent’s Google reviews years after her encounter with him. In recent months, some patients left positive feedback, perhaps to combat some of the negative publicity. “His personality may not be for everyone, but he’s been an excellent doctor for me,” one woman wrote. Another female patient noted, “He is an excellent and caring doctor. He doesn’t mince words, he’s straightforward and is very knowledgeable. I have recommended him to several of my friends.”
“Just because this doctor was a great doctor to a lot of women and delivered a lot of babies and did a lot of good,” Bonnie said, “doesn’t mean he also is and was capable of a lot of evil and abuse. It’s important to realize that both can exist.”
From Jane Doe S.P.’s perspective, the alleged sexual abuse reminded her of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics team doctor who sexually abused hundreds of girls and young women. In some cases, Nassar molested the gymnasts when their parents were in the room by blocking their view with a towel or positioning himself in front of their line of sight.
Broadbent is far from the only male gynecologist to face such accusations.
Former Columbia University gynecologist Robert Hadden is facing trial in Manhattan federal court this fall for allegedly sexually abusing scores of female patients, including minors. An indictment states this molestation occurred “under the guise of conducting purported gynecological and obstetric examinations at Hadden’s medical offices and at hospitals in New York.” Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, came forward to say she was one victim who testified against him before a grand jury. And, this year, UCLA reached a $243.6 million settlement with 200 women who claim they were abused by university gynecologist James Heaps, who also faces criminal charges.
Dr. Jana J. Richards, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UChicago Medicine, told The Daily Beast that in general, if a teenager or young woman is seeing a gynecologist for the first time, a vaginal or breast exam isn’t necessary. It’s recommended, however, that women start getting routine Pap smears at age 21.
Richards said that typically a medical assistant or a nurse will see the patient first, before the doctor enters the exam room, and explain what will happen during the visit. “Prior to touching a patient, you should have a conversation with them,” Richards said. “There should be an agreement before a patient is ever touched in terms of what exactly is going to be done.”
“Touch should never be unexpected in any doctor’s office but certainly in the gynecologist’s office,” Richards added. “You have to ask for permission.”
As for rectal-vaginal examinations, Richard said certain doctors might perform them annually but they’re usually only necessary if a physician is concerned that a patient has endometriosis or cancer and they’re checking for nodules.
“But that’s not something that you do every year, all the time,” Richards said. “And a rectal exam alone is not typically something someone would perform at all.”
“Women have to trust their intuition and they have to trust that they know the difference between good touch and bad touch and to not ignore that,” she added. “Unfortunately it could be a physician who touches you in an inappropriate way.”
The lawsuits reveal that Broadbent is accused of more than sexual abuse.
One woman believes Broadbent was so aggressive and forceful during an “exam” that he essentially caused her to have an abortion.
Jane Doe C.C. was 19 when she discovered she was pregnant in 2005. According to an amended complaint, she’d never been to an OB-GYN, and her fiancé and her sister joined her visit with Broadbent. She says the physician entered the room, ordered her to lay on the exam table, and opened her gown and felt her breasts. When Jane questioned his actions, Broadbent allegedly snapped, “Just lay there and let me do my job.”
Broadbent asked Jane’s partner questions about their relationship, including how long they were engaged, before grabbing her ankles and pulling her to the edge of the table. Broadbent allegedly yelled at her when she wiggled back. “Then, without warning,” the lawsuit says, “Broadbent began inserting his fingers into her vagina and began to ask questions about her fiancé and her sex life: how many times they had sex a week, what positions they used, if it hurt, did she enjoy it, if she could climax/orgasm, and so on.”
The gynecologist also questioned the couple about their religion and whether their baby was planned. Broadbent “seemed to become angrier and began yelling at them about being bad examples,” the lawsuit states, “told them that they were going to hell for sinning, for being horrible parents for wanting to bring an unplanned child into this world without being good members of the church, and telling them they would be better off without the child—all while his hand was still in Jane Doe C.C.’s vagina.”
According to Jane, Broadbent then stood up and placed one hand inside her vagina and another on her lower abdomen and pushed them together. “Jane Doe C.C. suddenly felt the most excruciating pain, unlike she ever felt before or sensed in her entire life,” the filing alleges. “It immediately took her breath away and brought instant uncontrollable tears. She felt as though her body was being ripped in two.”
“This should help you out,” Broadbent allegedly said, telling her to expect bleeding before he walked out of the room.
Jane’s sister and fiancé helped her to the car. “He did something to me, something is wrong,” she told them as she cried in pain. Days later, Jane was rushed to the Utah Valley Hospital emergency room and informed she lost her baby. The complaint states that a nurse advised Jane not to return to Broadbent “because she had seen him do things like this before.”
Jane says she became terrified of doctors after this incident and cannot go to an OB-GYN without her husband there to help her keep calm.
“She now looks back, wishing she knew during that first appointment what she knows now,” the lawsuit says. “She sees her younger self as being young, dumb, inexperienced, and scared.
“She never asked for that to happen. She never asked Broadbent to sexually abuse her and then to do what she believes took the life of her child.”