In June, a prominent North Carolina physician asked his nurse practitioner to meet with him in his pickup. There, Dr. Jon Thompson couched an indecent proposal in the simplest of numbers — as if he were prescribing medication.
Unless the nurse practitioner agreed to have one hour of sex with him two times a month for one full year, according to the woman’s new federal lawsuit, Thompson would make sure her husband and other loved ones received tapes of her highly personal conversations with an unidentified third party.
Thompson, a well-known surgeon at Wilkes Medical Center in North Wilkesboro, intimated that he had stalked the woman and used sophisticated video- and audio-recording devices to capture her private communications, the lawsuit claims.
On June 11, it says, after threatening her marriage, her reputation and her job, the doctor was eager to initiate what he described as “physical alone time.”
Because the two did not have any surgeries for the rest of the day, Thompson said they immediately should drive to his apartment for “some fun” that afternoon, the lawsuit claims. The nurse practitioner told Thompson she had to think about it first.
A week later, on June 18, Thompson had another conversation — this time with his superiors at Wake Forest Baptist Health, which manages Wilkes Medical Center.
Instead of complying with his threats, according to the lawsuit, Thompson’s intended victim had reported his ultimatum two days before. Thompson, the lawsuit says, was fired after he acknowledged that the nurse practitioner’s allegations were true.
While her name appears on her lawsuit, the Observer does not normally identify victims of alleged sexual harassment or assault. The complaint accuses Thompson of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, invasion of privacy, civil sexual assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Thompson’s conduct was “predatory and intended to sexually exploit and abuse her, and to place her in fear for her personal well-being and safety” as for that of her immediate family, according to the lawsuit.
The doctor could not be reached by the email address or phone numbers attached to his name in public records. The nurse practitioner’s lawsuit does not yet include the name of Thompson’s attorney.
In response to an Observer email seeking information about the incident, a spokesman for the hospital chain issued a statement Friday that appears to support the nurse’s version of events.
“Wake Forest Baptist Health is proud to have (the plaintiff) as one of our dedicated nurse practitioners,” it read in part. “Dr. Thompson’s employment with Wake Forest Baptist Health ended on June 18, 2021.”
Asked by email if the medical chain had made a criminal referral in the matter, the spokesman did not respond.
Sexual misconduct complaints against doctors, particularly against patients, have become common. A recent national investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution uncovered allegations in every state.
Larry Nassar, a former doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting at least 300 young female athletes and dancers.
Colleagues and subordinates are often targeted, too. Earlier this month, six female doctors at Yale University settled their lawsuit against a male co-worker whom they accused of unwanted kissing, groping and retaliation.
A series of 2018 lawsuits accused prominent Charlotte eye surgeon Jonathan Christenbury, now deceased, of hiring Charlotte Hornets dancers and other attractive women for his office staff, then stalking, groping and sexually harassing them.
Meanwhile, a federal lawsuit filed by a nurse in March alleges that Dr. Justin Farmer sexually harassed and groped both nurses and at least one female doctor at a Cabarrus County medical facility, leading to a near-brawl in the doctor’s lounge with the husband of one of his alleged victims.
Farmer’s attorney, Kevin Parsons of Charlotte, did not respond to an Observer email seeking comment. In a March court filing, Parson argued that the case against his client should be dismissed because the nurse’s allegations fall short of the required standard of proof. They include sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and hostile work environment, assault and battery, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among others.
More complaints against docs
Across North Carolina, complaints against physicians involving sexual misconduct and so-called “boundary violations” have been ticking up, according to the N.C. Medical Board, which investigates the allegations.
The board received 35 complaints in 2018, 38 in 2019 and 42 in 2020, a board spokeswoman said.
In the Wilkes County case, Thompson’s illicit proposal came out of nowhere, the lawsuit says. In the four years they had worked together, the pair had become not only professional colleagues but personal — and platonic — friends, socializing with each other’s families. He even performed several surgeries on her.
That changed in mid-May, the lawsuit says.
At work, Thompson told the nurse he was having marital problems and said he knew she was experiencing the same. He said he found her to be attractive and wanted to pursue a relationship outside of work. When Thompson asked her if the request made her uncomfortable, she said it did. Thompson apologized.
A month later, he invited her to his truck.
According to the lawsuit, the nurse asked for three more days to think about the terms of his quid pro quo. When that day came, Thompson played a clip from one of the nurse’s confidential conversations. Again, she asked for more time.
He gave her a few more days — long enough for her to meet with two of her bosses at Wake Forest Baptist and file a workplace sexual harassment complaint against Thompson.