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Sexual abuse victim sues Utah hospital, saying it could have prevented her assault by a doctor

Nathan Clark Ward appears in court in Farmington on Aug. 11, 2017.
FILE - Nathan Clark Ward appeared in court in Farmington for a brief initial appearance on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. A mother and daughter have filed a lawsuit against Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, claiming the hospital should have known Ward, the gynecologist who sexually abused the girl, was using drugs and hospital equipment for illegal purposes.
Benjamin Zack

BOUNTIFUL — A Utah family has filed a lawsuit against Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, claiming the hospital could have prevented the sexual abuse of a young girl by a gynecologist there.

Nathan Ward, 57, was sentenced in March to up to life in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual abuse, a first-degree felony, for assaulting the then-13-year-old girl in 2012. He was also convicted on a separate federal charge after he admitted to streaming video of the girl as he removed her clothing.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges Ward used drugs obtained illegally from the hospital to sexually assault the girl over a period of six years, beginning when she was 11 years old. The suit also says Ward used electronic devices owned or controlled by Lakeview Hospital and its owner, Mountain Star Healthcare, to create and publish pornographic videos of the child.

Anesthetists and other employees of the hospital should have known that Ward was obtaining drugs and using hospital equipment for illegal purposes, the lawsuit alleges. The suit claims the hospital conducted a "limited investigation" into employees' illegal use of drugs and hospital equipment, but did not take any action "to discover and stop Nathan Ward’s sexual pursuits."

"An appropriate investigation, monitoring and other proper procedures would have prevented and stopped the continual sexual assaults … the publishing of the sexual assaults … and other harms," the lawsuit states.

The hospital said in a statement Wednesday it intends to "vigorously defend" itself against the lawsuit, noting that Ward was "immediately" fired after the criminal allegations were made in 2017 and that the hospital "fully assisted" law enforcement in the criminal investigation.

The suit also claims Ward "conspired" with or "enlisted" other people affiliated with the hospital to negligently or intentionally engage in "illegal activities for illicit purposes," including the sexual assault of the girl. The complaint did not give further details as to how people associated with the hospital were alleged to have conspired with Ward.

Ward, who had been in practice for 25 years before his arrest, had a relationship "of special trust" to the girl. The Deseret News generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The ordeal has resulted in both the victim and her mother suffering "extreme emotional trauma," the lawsuit states, adding that both have had counseling since the allegations came to light.

Ward pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal charge of production of child pornography after admitting to streaming video of himself undressing the girl to another man via cellphone between June 2013 and August 2015. He was sentencedin July 2018 to roughly 22 years in federal prison.

His time in Utah State Prison, where he has been sentenced to spend at least 15 years and up to life, will begin after he finishes his federal sentence.