OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT)-- Civil lawsuits accuse an Omaha Doctor of improperly touching two female patients under anesthesia, but after two years, no charges have been filed.
Police have been investigating Dr. Dietrich since January 2017 after the first patient, Deb Lowndes, was allegedly inappropriately touched.
“The police are doing everything they can to see what evidence exists for either the city prosecutor or ourselves to be able to prove a case, so that’s what we’re waiting for,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.
The allegations against Dr. Dietrich outlined in these civil suits are serious, but according to the County Attorney, higher levels of both evidence and proof are needed to file charges.
According to Klein, a felony requires penetration, and that’s not what has been alleged in the civil suits. For a misdemeanor for inappropriate touching to apply, intent must be proven.
“Prove that the person who does the touching is doing it for sexual gratification, some sexual purpose; it’s not an accidental brush up,” Kleine said.
Even though there are witnesses, Kleine said that might not be enough.
“But it depends on what they saw, what they observed, and how they observed it. So, I’m sure those folks have been interviewed by police, if they haven’t they should be and we will make it happen,” Kleine said.
The state can’t tell us whether it’s investigating, but a Health and Human Services spokesperson replied to Six On Your Side.
“Our records indicate no disciplinary action against Dr. Mark Dietrich’s license,” the HHS employee said.
Deb Lowndes’s husband, Tim, said the state was notified and that he should have at least been temporarily suspended from practice until somebody could figure out what was going on.
Another patient who had been under anesthesia alleges inappropriate touching by Dr. Dietrich; her surgery was six months after Lowndes filed the lawsuit.
“I didn’t want this to happen again to somebody else. I felt really bad for her, they should not have let him continue to practice,” Lowndes said.
Though his attorney hasn’t returned our messages, in court filings, Dr. Dietrich called the lawsuit a frivolous complaint. He denies the assault and believes the acts he took during her surgery were directly related to the procedure.
Dietrich is no longer an employee of Nebraska Medicine and Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital; his privileges there ended in 2016, not long after Lowndes had her surgery.