Editor's Note: A federal judge dismissed the case on December 31, 2018 after a request from attorneys on both sides. The dismissal came after the victim’s attorney filed a court notice on Dec. 17, 2018 that she intended to use testimony at trial from a woman formerly employed by Dr. Robert Norman who filed a discrimination complaint against him with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching. A court notice filed 10 days later – on Dec. 27, 2018 – stated Dr. Norman was in the process of settling the case out of court with the victim. Details of that settlement are not available in court records.
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She didn’t want her face shown or her name known, but a Tampa woman decided to break her silence after she said a job interview led to a sexual assault by a Tampa doctor. A doctor who, we uncovered, has had three similar cases. “I feel like I am broken and damaged material,” said the victim while her voice cracked with every word as she recalled the incident. “I came out a different person.” The victim shared what happened with her eight months ago during a job interview in a surgical room. “I don’t understand why I couldn’t speak. Why I couldn’t push him off,” said the victim. In a lawsuit filed by attorney Shaina Thorpe, the victim claimed that Dr. Robert Norman “pinned her against the wall…and sexually assaulted her.” “The bottom line is that he effectively raped my client,” said Thorpe. “I was humiliated and disgusted. I felt ashamed,” said the victim. She said she was too traumatized to report the assault claim for ten days. When she did, the lawsuit claimed prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to bring criminal charges and pursue the matter further. “Quite honestly, I’m shocked,” said Thorpe as she recalled what she uncovered about Norman’s past. Norman is linked to other issues of misconduct that were investigated by a total of three different state medical boards. There are documents that also show Norman’s license was revoked in the state of Massachusetts in 1981. There, he faced another sexual assault allegation. In 1991, Florida’s State Board suspended his license for a year when he plead no contest to battery against two female patients. “And then was somehow able to get it back after paying a $2,000 fine! Which to me, is absurd,” said Thorpe. And most recently, in 2011, New Hampshire fined Norman $20,000 because he had claimed to have a license to practice in that state when he didn’t. The Department of Health, in Florida, regulates licensed physicians. When asked about what the standard should be for doctors, a spokesperson would not comment directly about Norman. He only said that at the time of the 1991 case, another Florida state agency oversaw doctors. Norman is still licensed to practice here in Florida. “I do not want him to do this to anyone else,” said the victim when asked why she choose to speak out. In an official statement on behalf of the State Attorney’s office, Rena Frazier stated that they “encourage victims to immediately come forward when they have been the victim of a sex crime, which will assist in successfully prosecuting these difficult cases.” ABC Action News reached out to Norman's attorney, but did not hear back for an official statement. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay helps victims of any and all types of assault. Click here for more information on how they can help. The Department of Heath gave the following statement and included a link to report any physician misconduct:
"A top priority for the Florida Department of Health in administering any disciplinary action against a licensed practitioner is always patient safety. Additionally, we must follow the due process of law in order to ensure that the rights and entitlements of all parties to any action are given due consideration. While this is not always the timeliest process, it is nevertheless one we look to as a guide for maintaining the integrity of all boards and councils, and the department. We can assure the public that we will be diligent and thorough in protecting them from unsafe or unscrupulous health care practice.
All complaints received by the department are treated equally and reviewed thoroughly. Formal complaints from patients must be made in writing on the official complaint form. Once the complaint is received, it is assigned to an investigator for review. The department takes every complaint seriously and moves toward a swift resolution.
Consumer complaint forms can be found at: https://www.flhealthcomplaint.gov
Legally sufficient complaints are presented to probable cause panel that is made up of members of the board. From the time that the initial complaint is made until 10 days after probable cause is found the complaint is confidential per Florida Statute 456.073
In the event that a health care provider poses an immediate danger to themselves or the public, the State Surgeon General has the authority to restrict or suspend a health care license through an Emergency Order.
In Emergency Orders there must be a finding indicating that the licensee poses an immediate serious threat to the public, or a portion of the public health, safety or welfare. It must also be determined that the conduct is likely to continue unless the Emergency Order is issued. Furthermore, the Emergency Order must be narrowly tailored so that it only restricts a person from doing conduct that would allow the complained of conduct to continue, absent the Emergency Order. We must truly have to say with sufficient support that the Emergency Order is necessary to protect the public from the immediate danger posed by the practitioner."