COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A young woman who says she was groped and fondled by a pediatrician during a sports physical when she was just 13 took the stand in a lawsuit against the doctor in a Cobb County courtroom.
“It felt to me like I was shrinking and everything around me was going and time had just stopped. I was like, when is his hand going to leave this area of my body,” Sarah Barber testified.
Barber is now an 18-year-old college student, but she was just 13, an honor student when her mother took her to Westside Pediatric Clinic in Douglasville for a sports physical in January 2018 so she could try out for the soccer team.
That’s when she says Dr. Richard Gluckman groped her breasts and pelvic area during her physical and even allegedly shoved his groin near her during a scoliosis test.
“Why are you touching me in personal areas of my body? I’m 13. I’m a growing girl,” Barber said.
Channel 2 Action News Investigates first covered this case in 2018.
Channel 2 Action News does not typically identify children involved in criminal investigations, but Barber said she hoped she would help other alleged victims.
Now the trial is finally underway in her civil lawsuit against Gluckman and the owner of the pediatric practice, Dr. Raju Kulangara.
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Kulangara was out of the country when the incident happened and regularly has Gluckman cover his practice while he is away.
In opening statements, Gluckman’s attorney maintained he performed a normal physical exam that followed accepted standards of care.
“Just because a patient is uncomfortable that doesn’t mean a doctor committed medical malpractice. It just doesn’t,” defense attorney Tyler Fisher told the jury.
Kulangara testified that after being told about the complaint, he never asked Gluckman about the allegations, never talked to Sarah or her mother about them, and never reported them.
“Did you determine that you did not believe the allegations that have been made against Dr. Gluckman?” attorney Natalie Woodward asked Kulangara.
“I don’t want to answer the question,” he responded.
“That’s too bad you still got to answer it?” Woodward countered.
“I don’t want to answer that question,” Kulangara repeated.
It was more than 15 minutes later after a series of objections and sidebars that Kulangara finally answered the question.
“You did not believe her that he had touched her breasts?” Kulangara was asked.
“I didn’t believe it,” he said.
Barber testified that the fear of not being believed or understood is why she did not say anything during the exam.
“I’m only 13, I’m not a doctor. What am I going to say? What do I know? Am I allowed to step out of line? I mean, I’m a kid,” Barber said.
There have been other complaints against Gluckman in the past.
Cobb County Police confirm in 2012 they began investigating Gluckman but could not release the report because of a state law that makes reports involving child abuse confidential.
Channel 2 Action News also confirmed another mother and daughter filed a complaint with the Georgia State Composite Medical Board.
The complainant, now age 30, said Gluckman inappropriately touched her chest and even commented on her breast development when she was only nine.
There is no public record the board took disciplinary action in that case.
This case will continue all week.
Gluckman is expected to take the stand to testify.
His attorney said he will testify that he followed accepted standards of care.
No criminal charges were ever filed in the incident.
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