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UCLA Cardiologist's License Temporarily Stripped After Sexual Assault Allegations

Doctor Holds Stethoscope
Doctor Holds Stethoscope | Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos / Creative Commons
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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A UCLA cardiologist has been temporarily stripped of his medical license after state regulators described him as a "sexual predator'' who assaulted three female colleagues when he was working and training at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, it was reported today.

An administrative law judge ruled this week that Dr. Guillermo Andres Cortes "presents a risk of immediate and serious injury to the public'' if allowed to continue working as a physician in California, the Los Angeles Times reported this morning.

The state medical board opened an investigation into Cortes in February after The Times detailed a former resident's accusations that he cornered her in a windowless room at the hospital, reached under her scrubs and sexually assaulted her, according to the newspaper.

The resident's complaint prompted the hospital to place Cortes on leave, but the physician was eventually allowed to return to work. He was later accused of sexually assaulting another co-worker several times, according to the medical board.

Tomas Guterres, Cortes' defense attorney, said in a statement quoted by The Times that his client "vehemently denies the allegations and charges presented to the medical board.''

Cortes was not properly notified about the medical board's request to suspend his license and couldn't properly defend himself against the accusations, the lawyer said. He said Cortes did not supervise the women who made the complaints, adding that they did not notify their superiors or law enforcement in a timely manner.

A UCLA spokesman, Phil Hampton, said late Wednesday that Cortes had been placed on paid leave but did not say when or why, The Times reported. He said the university had not been made aware of the misconduct allegations when Cortes was hired at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in July 2017.

The medical board's petition to suspend Cortes' license contains detailed sworn accounts from the three women but does not identify them. One alleged that Cortes assaulted her after they had been drinking together at his apartment in January 2015.

Ten months later, Dr. Meena Zareh said, Cortes sexually assaulted her. Zareh outlined her accusations in The Times' February report.

Cortes was put on paid leave while the county investigated. In May 2016, he was allowed to return to work. It's unclear whether Cortes faced any discipline.

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