Montebello doctor accused of molesting patient
By Brian Day, Staff Writer
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 01/05/2012 09:28:47 PM PST
MONTEBELLO - Police arrested a doctor Wednesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female patient during an exam in July, authorities said.
Dr. Arturo Vargas, 41, was booked on suspicion of three felony sex crimes and was released from jail within hours of his arrest after posting $200,000 bail, according to Montebello police and county booking records.
The arrest came at the end of a six-month investigation after a patient who was examined by Vargas at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices, 1550 Town Center Drive, reported being assaulted by the doctor.
"We received a report from a woman in her 30s that during a routine medical examination, she was assaulted by a physician," Montebello police Lt. Luis Lopez said.
Vargas is due in East Los Angeles Superior Court on Feb. 6 to be arraigned on felony charges of sexual battery by fraud, sexual exploitation by a physician and sexual penetration by a foreign object, police said.
The woman reported the alleged assault immediately after it took place, Lopez said. The lieutenant declined to specify what type of exam the woman went to the office for, or on what specific date.
After being notified that a case was to be filed against him, "He (Vargas) came in cooperatively," Lopez said. "He came in with his attorney."
Defense attorney Brian Virag said Thursday that he had not yet seen the charging documents against his client, so he could not comment on any
specifics of the case.
"We'll be waiting to see what the charging documents, allegations, look like," he said. "I can indicate that Dr. Vargas intends to defend his reputation."
Vargas has worked for Kaiser Permanente since 2005, Virag added. Information on his employment before Kaiser was not available.
"He has no criminal history," Lopez said.
Vargas was placed on leave from his position at Kaiser in the early stages of the investigation, Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure said.
"This has been a case in which everyone's been cooperative," he said.
Kaiser spokeswoman Reyna Del Haro said the hospital is and has been taking the allegations very seriously.
When the allegations first emerged, Kaiser "confronted the physician, required him to conduct all future sensitive examinations in the presence of a chaperone, reinforced the importance of professional communications, and warned him that failure to meet expectations could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from the partnership," Del Haro said.
"We have placed the physician on administrative leave pending any additional information that we may learn from the legal process," Del Haro said. "We have compassion and sympathy for any patient who may believe that he or she has not been treated appropriately, and we investigate all allegations of improper treatment. In cooperation with the police, we will take all appropriate action to ensure continued high quality care and patient safety."
Police said investigators have not discovered any additional victims; however anyone who believes they may have had an inappropriate contact with Vargas is asked to call Montebello police Detective Javier Ornelas at 323-887-1262.