Houston women accuse local doctor of sexual harassment
EEOC believes there is a Title VII violation
HOUSTON – More than two months after speaking to Channel 2 Investigates in disguise, Merari Rebollar is emerging from the shadows revealing more of her emotional and physical struggles resulting from what happened to her at a local medical office.
"He was a doctor and he would examine us for free," Rebollar said.
Rebollar has filed a lawsuit against her former boss, Dr. Juan Ortega, claiming he sexually harassed her and created a hostile working environment. Rebollar says Ortega's offer to perform free medical examinations for employees went too far.
"When he was done, he lift up my pants and looked inside," Rebollar said.
Rebollar is not the only employee making claims against Ortega.
In a separate lawsuit, Melissa Nieto says she endured the same. She did not want to show her face, but through tears told Channel 2 Investigates she too was violated during an examination by Ortega. "Whenever you go for a cough or a flu, he would touch you down there, your breast," Nieto said.
Nieto and Rebollar worked for Ortega at the Ortega Medical Clinic north of downtown. Established for years, the medical practice specializes in pediatrics. One mother told Channel 2 Investigates Ortega that is an excellent doctor.
In the lawsuits, both claim Ortega routinely worked to get them in a one-on-one environment in his office.
"He would always tell me to lock the door whenever I was in there,” Nieto said.
In her lawsuit, Nieto claims in one instance, Ortega wanted privacy so he could show her pictures of a nude woman on his computer that resembled her.
"He wanted for me to go look for someone that could take some pictures like those and do a calendar for him,” she said. When asked if she was saying he wanted her to be a nude model for him, Nieto said: “A nude model like the one he was showing on the computer."
Rebollar says she reported the workplace environment to an office manager and got a response to just ignore him.
"He's a sick man, just ignore him," Rebollar said she was advised and she ultimately did follow that advice - with a different man.
"For a while, I did not want my husband to touch me and I told him I was sorry but I felt that Dr. Juan Ortega... that's what he did. He made me have that feeling towards my husband and I shouldn't have had that."
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined the women's cases contain "reasonable cause to believe that there is a violation of Title VII" in reference to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In response to the ruling, Dorian Vandenberg-Rodes, who represents Rebollar and Nieto said, "It does indicate that they see the case with some seriousness, yes."
Both complaints detail a hostile workplace where the women were subjected to sexual harassment and even assault by Ortega. Channel 2 Investigates wanted Ortega's side of the story. We went to the Ortega Medical Clinic in the last 48 hours to speak with Ortega, but were informed he was not in.
However, minutes later, Channel 2 Investigates captured video of him walking around, even getting into his vehicle and attempting to drive off at one point. Ultimately, the man confirmed to us as Ortega never left the property.
Channel 2 Investigates reached out to Lonnie Schooler, the attorney for Ortega.
In a statement ,Schooler said, "We have not yet had the opportunity to review the details of the lawsuits that have been filed. Even so, Dr. Ortega feels very strongly that he is entitled to his day in court on these claims, and anticipates being vindicated once that happens."
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