AVENAL — A civil lawsuit claiming negligent supervision against Avenal Community Health Center was filed in Kings County Superior Court Monday following the 2013 arrest of nurse practitioner Jeff Sabino.
Sixty-five-year-old Sabino is accused of sexually assaulting four patients while working at Avenal Community Health Center. He is facing 36 criminal counts that include charges of forcible penetration and sexual battery.
On behalf of one of the victims, the law firm Estey Bomberger filed a civil lawsuit against the clinic and Sabino seeking compensation for personal injury and severe emotional distress. It alleges that the clinic failed to adequately supervise Sabino after having been made aware of prior complaints about his misconduct.
“[The complaint] is based on the clinic’s failure to protect the patient,” Stephen Estey, the attorney representing the victim, said. “It appears that the clinic had prior complaints about Sabino.
"The complaints were either ignored or fell on deaf ears.”
According to the lawsuit, in October 2012 the victim went to the clinic for treatment of stomach pains. The complaint claims that Sabino lied to the victim, telling her that before an ultrasound could be conducted, he needed to physically examine her pelvic area.
Without staff members present, the lawsuit stated that Sabino gave the victim an "inappropriate pelvic examination."
Sabino is said to have engaged in similar criminal activity on at least three other victims at the same clinic — the first victim reportedly filing a formal complaint with the clinic in 2011.
"Our client and the other patients who were victims, put their trust in Avenal Community Health Center," Estey said in a statement. "Once the center became aware of complaints regarding Sabino he should never have been allowed access to these women."
As of Tuesday, the attorneys representing Avenal Community Health Center had not yet had the opportunity to view the complaint. They were not able to immediately comment.
Sabino, who is set to stand trial on Sept. 15, remains in Kings County Jail in lieu of $2.4 million bail. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years-to-life in prison.