Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
An Albuquerque gynecologic oncologist accused of forcing an office employee to have sex with him to keep her job contends in a new court filing that his former physican-partner is capitalizing upon the “consensual” affair to seize control of the highly-successful medical practice.
Dr. Francisco Ampuero, who co-founded the medical practice in 1985, states in a counterclaim filed Monday that he “regrets” the relationship with the former employee and that he offered to personally accept “any financial responsibilities for any claim” she has made.
He contends his former partner, Dr. Karen Finkelstein, and the practice, Southwest Gynecologic Oncology Associates, are using his “indiscretion and misfortune” with the employee to publicly embarrass and humiliate him and “ruin his ability to practice medicine.” He also denied allegations he had sex with another woman who was a patient.
Ampuero, who has practiced in New Mexico since 1979, has treated thousands of patients during his tenure with Southwest Gynecologic Oncology Associates, his counterclaim states. The firm’s website noted his specialty is treating ovarian cancer.
The affair between Ampuero and the employee came to light after the employee was fired by Finkelstein, allegedly for poor job performance.
Albuquerque attorney Sam Bregman, who represented the female employee, sent a demand letter to Finkelstein on July 21 seeking monetary damages on behalf of the woman, who after her termination claimed she had been sexually harassed.
Bregman alleged Ampuero treated the woman like a “prostitute,” forcing her to have sex in hotels and at the office during weekends and evenings. The woman, according to Bregman’s letter, was instructed to “clock in to ensure that she would be paid by the practice for having sex with him.”
The letter, which was attached to Finkelstein’s lawsuit, threatened a wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit “for the despicable conduct of Dr. Ampuero during the last four years.”
Bregman wouldn’t comment last week as to whether his client has received a financial settlement, but no lawsuit has been filed against Ampuero, Finkelstein or the medical practice involving the woman’s claims.
Finkelstein contends the former employee was dismissed for failing to perform her basic job duties.
“This all occurred before we knew of any of Dr. Ampuero’s improper actions toward her,” Finkelstein told the Journal in an email Oct. 21.
Ampuero, 73, said in his counterclaim that he told Finkelstein about the relationship in June, and offered to resign as president and transfer managerial responsibilities to Finkelstein, who is the other member of the firm’s board of directors.
Instead, the counterclaim states, Finkelstein tried to keep him from treating his patients, locked him out of corporate bank accounts and the medical practice office, posting a security guard.
She also kept him from electronic patient records and canceled his patients’ appointments without consulting him, Ampuero alleged.
Ampuero also said in his counterclaim that Finkelstein “deliberately mischaracterized” the facts of Ampuero’s affair by suggesting in her lawsuit that in addition to his relations with a former employee, he also had sex with a patient. They are one in the same, his counterclaim states.
“Dr. Finkelstein has always known it was only one person,” the counterclaim states.
Finkelstein’s lawsuit contends as the direct supervisor of the woman, Ampuero knew she was a “problem employee” but failed to discipline her because of their relationship.
Finkelstein’s lawsuit alleges the woman had a pattern of discrepancies in the deposits and insurance co-pays, falsified records, overcharged persons, was incompetent in managing billing and hid checks from the practice.
The corporate waste involved was estimated to be in excess of $1 million, according to the lawsuit against Ampuero, who was earning a yearly salary of $500,000.