WEATHERFORD, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Janice Williams was watching the news three years ago, when she saw her doctor’s mugshot and gasped.
“He’s doing it to other women,” she recalls telling her husband.READ MORE: Dallas Restaurant Owner Who Served In The Army Gets Frozen Out Of COVID-19 Relief Money
Janice started visiting her former cardiologist Dr. Dennis Doan in 2012.
One day, she found herself alone with him.
“Then he asked me to lie down on the exam table,” she said.
She says he massaged her breasts while asking about mammograms and other issues.
It’s a process, she says, he’d repeat every visit, despite assurances she had a doctor for that.
“Every time, I took my hands and said she covers this part of my body,” said Janice gesturing over her chest.
Keely Potter was 18 when she visited Dr. Doan.
“He put his hand right here,” she said, touching her chest, “and was listening to my heart. I didn’t think anything of it. And then within a matter of seconds, his hand was in my shirt, in my bra.”
He asked detailed questions, she said, about sex.
“I was asked very, very inappropriate questions,” she said.
In 2018, Weatherford Police arrested Dr. Doan, after another patient reported that he’d roughly grabbed her breasts hurting her while he himself was aroused.
Police asked other victims to come forward, and both Janice and Keely did.
“There was like no women around, and I didn’t know if people are going to believe me, I’m sorry,” said Keely, becoming tearful at the memory of what it was like to first share her story with strangers.
The Texas Medical Board later documented “at least 24 separate incidents involving sexual misconduct had been reported” to police by both employees and patients, including Keely and Janice.READ MORE: Too Much Time In North Texas Heat Leading To More Hospitalizations
“It was at that time they said he was sexually assaulting me,” said Janice, of her meeting with police.
But, Texas law, the women say, failed them.
Groping, that would now qualify as indecent assault, was just a class C misdemeanor at the time and no more serious than a traffic ticket.
“The Texas laws weren’t strong enough,” said Janice.
The following year state lawmakers made the crime a Class A misdemeanor eligible for jail time.
This year, the women are fighting to take it further.
“I was young and scared and had never experienced something like this before,” said Keeley in testimony via videoconference to House committee last month in favor of House bill 2987, which would make indecent assault a state jail felony for repeat offenders or health care providers who abuse patients.
“My life is still affected daily because of the shame and anger that this doctor got away with assaulting over 22 women with barely a slap on the wrist,” she told lawmakers.
Patients place faith in their doctors, and exploiting that, the bill proposes, should have greater consequences.
“A doctor’s office is to be a safe place,” said Janice. “This doctor violated our trust, as well as our bodies.”
In advocacy, though, the women say, they’ve found their voice.
Soon, they hope to find some justice, if not for themselves, for others
“Whenever you’re passionate about something, you just really really get over then nerves and you do it anyway. Kind of like this interview. I’m very nervous but I want my voice to be heard,” said Keely. “We’re not his victims, we’re survivors that are banding together to speak up to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone again.”
Doan’s medical license is currently suspended, but not revoked.
This December, he agreed to plea guilty to one count of violating the Medical Practice Act in exchange for deferred adjudication.MORE NEWS: Family Battles Scarborough Renaissance Festival And Texas Law Over Sexual Assault On Fairgrounds
“When Dr. Doan successfully completes the terms of his probation, there will be no finding of guilt, the case will be dismissed and he will not have a conviction on his record. Though we were looking forward to trying these cases, there was no trial date in sight due to the ongoing pandemic,” wrote his attorneys.