Lawsuit claims doctor engaged in ‘predatory behavior’ toward minor

As it appeared on The Citizens’ Voice
JAMES HALPIN

WILKES-BARRE — A former Geisinger Health System doctor was hit with a civil lawsuit Wednesday alleging he “gnawed” and “licked” the ears and cheek of a minor student he was supposed to mentor.

The lawsuit alleges Dr. Abraham Joseph Layon, of Lewisburg, engaged in “manipulative, coercive, and predatory behavior” toward the girl, who is not identified in the complaint filed Wednesday in Luzerne County court.

The filing by the Kingston law firm Fellerman & Ciarimboli says that the pair met when Layon, the system director of critical care medicine at Geisinger’s Danville campus, was overseeing an educational group “purportedly formed to educate high school students” in a critical-care setting.

Layon created the program and gave out badges to the students, while Geisinger permitted it to go unsupervised for more than a year, says the complaint, which names Layon as well as Geisinger Health System as defendants.

“As far as we know, there were allegations against him — complaints made against him — in the past that were of a sexual nature and no action was taken against him,” plaintiffs attorney Edward J. Ciarimboli said Wednesday. “So that couples with the fact that — how do you have a bunch of minors running around the (intensive care unit) and nobody says anything? Obviously there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

In response to questions, Geisinger spokesman David Jolley released a prepared statement.

“We have not yet had an opportunity to review the complaint in detail; however, I can confirm that upon learning of this alleged incident we promptly ended Dr. Layon’s employment at Geisinger,” Jolley said.

According to the complaint, the 16-year-old girl joined Layon’s program in January. He soon began engaging in inappropriate communications, sending her emails telling her to call him “Joe” in private and asking if she “wanted to travel this path with me,” the complaint says.

He also suggested she read “racist, provocative, sexually charged” books such as “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Layon at times asked the girl to read passages from the work along with his own “personal and sexually suggestive messages related to these topics that had absolutely nothing to do with medicine,” the complaint alleges.

On Aug. 15, Layon forced himself on the teen at the Danville campus, kissing her ear, face and mouth without her consent, according to the complaint. Layon gnawed her ears, forced his tongue in her mouth and caressed her cheek, causing the girl to be “terrified and fear an imminent threat of further sexual assault,” the complaint alleges.

The girl broke away, however, and called her mother for help, the lawsuit says. The girl suffered embarrassment, depression and anxiety as a result of the assault, the complaint alleges.

As a result of the incident, Layon was reprimanded and ultimately fired, according to the complaint.

The suit names Layon as a defendant as well as Geisinger Health System, arguing that the institution knew or should have known about his misconduct.

“The very nature, quantity and type of violations and egregious conduct which resulted in the severe mental and emotional injuries to (the girl) evidences outrageous, malicious and intolerable conduct warranting the imposition of exemplary and/or punitive damages,” the complaint concludes.

Layon did not immediately return a message left at a phone listing for him in Lewisburg.

Ciarimboli said that while the victim is not from Luzerne County and the alleged assault took place in Danville, the lawsuit was filed here in an effort to have a “neutral venue” for the case to proceed.

The complaint says that as a result of the August incident, the girl obtained a three-year restraining order against Layon in Lackawanna County. The filing also says the girl contacted police, who made a report about the encounter.

As of Wednesday, no criminal charges had been filed against Layon, according to court records.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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