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Civil lawsuit says Beldenville man abused patients

Two St. Croix County women have filed a personal-injury civil lawsuit against Baldwin Area Medical Center, claiming a physical therapist sexually abused them during treatment for lower back pain.

The alleged incidents occurred in 2006 and 2010. The women say they reported the abuse to BAMC administrators and Baldwin police but no action was taken until two nurses came forward with similar complaints about the therapist, Luke Wayne Hayes, N7242 County Road N, Beldenville.

The patients, identified in the complaint by initials T.B. and H.A., claim Hayes slid his hand under their clothing, touching their groin areas. H.A. alleges that after inappropriately touching her during the first session, Hayes “escalated his conduct” during the next session, pulled her clothing aside and rubbed her intimately.

T.B. claims that near the end of her fourth therapy course, on Nov. 10, 2010, Hayes placed his right hand on her stomach and slid his hand under her clothing and touched her intimately.

The women say they both reported the incidents soon after they happened but were told by BAMC administrators that Hayes’ conduct was appropriate. In one case, says the complaint, the patient was told that the therapist’s actions were “proper, medically accepted practice for the treatment of low back pain.”

Hayes, who resigned from BAMC in 2010, is also named a defendant in the lawsuit as is MHA Insurance Company, Lansing, Mich., which provides liability coverage to the Medical Center.

“Ensuring our patients receive high quality, safe care is our top priority. We take these allegations very, very seriously,” wrote BAMC CEO Alison Page in an email response to a reporter’s request for comment.

“Mr. Hayes has not been employed by Baldwin Area Medical Center since 2010,” Page continued. “I won’t comment further on the allegations made against Mr. Hayes, as it is our policy not to discuss specific information related to personnel issues publicly.

For more please read the Oct. 2 print version of the Herald. 

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.