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Valencia College was named in a lawsuit on Thursday by two female students who claim their civil rights were violated when they were forced to submit to transvaginal exams as part of their classroom training.
The lawsuit identifies the two students as “Jane Doe” and “Jane Doe II” and names three professors from the Sonography department as defendants along with Valencia State College’s board of trustees.
According to the lawsuit the medical diagnostic students were forced to submit to probes of their sexual organs with threats of having their grades reduced if they refused.
During orientation a student by the name of Jennifer Astor spoke about the Medical Diagnostic Sonography program to the new students, explaining that “faculty believed that students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians,” according to the lawsuit.
One of the professors named in the lawsuit Barbara Ball — who is listed as the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Chair on her Faculty FrontDoor page — is accused in the lawsuit of stating that one student was “sexy” during one of the probing exams and also saying that she should be an “escort girl,” claims the lawsuit.
“Defendants believe this type of behavior casts serious doubts upon Ball’s motivation for insisting upon these forced vaginal probing sessions,” states the suit.
Professor Ball teaches a Seminar In Sonography class as well as a Abdominal Sonography II class during the summer semester according to Valencia College’s website.
The lawsuit states that starting in March 2014 the plaintiffs and their classmates began practicing the ultrasound vaginal probes on one another with the plaintiffs being submitted to these examinations “nearly every week,” despite Valencia College’s Medical Sonography Program having access to “anatomically correct simulators designed specifically for students to practice sonography exams upon them.”
The students later did have clinical practice at local central Florida hospitals where the plaintiffs preformed the probes on actual patients in a professional medical setting.
“Discomfort” and “embarrassment” were the words used in the lawsuit to describe how the plaintiffs felt each time they had to submit to the examinations.
As of Tuesday afterrnoon, Valencia College public relations director Carol Traynor states that the school has not been served a lawsuit, so therefore would not be able to comment on the matter. The college did release a statement regarding the school’s diagnostic medical sonography associate’s degree program.
“The use of volunteers — including fellow students — for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice. Valencia College’s sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment.”
The two plaintiffs are represented by attorney Christopher Dillingham II of Winter Park’s Gagnon Eisele Dillingham P.A.
The other faculty members named in the lawsuit were Linda Shaheen and Maureen Bugnacki.
This is an on going story and will be updated as information becomes available.