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A Florida woman has sued an Omaha doctor for allegedly fondling her while she was anesthetized during a 2017 knee surgery.

In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha by a woman identified only as A.W., attorney Maren Chaloupka alleges Nebraska Medicine knew that Dr. Mark Dietrich had been accused of doing the same thing to another female patient in December 2016.

The suit names the hospital, too, which Chaloupka alleges did nothing to prevent it from happening again.

Dietrich hasn't been charged criminally and no disciplinary actions had been taken against his medical license as of Tuesday, according to searches of court records and the state's Licensing Unit.

But Kelsey Murphy, an Omaha Police Department spokeswoman, confirmed they have an open investigation involving Dietrich. But she said she couldn't provide any additional information.

Chaloupka said Dietrich has worked as an event physician for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials held in Omaha, as a sideline physician for area youth sports teams, is part of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Physician Leadership Academy and a financial donor to the Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

"On information and belief, Dietrich was also a sexual predator, and (Nebraska Medicine) knew it," she alleged.

Chaloupka said Omaha police began investigating Dietrich in early 2017 on allegations that he had sexually groped and fondled patients who were under anesthesia.

On May 30, 2017, an Omaha nurse and her husband sued Dietrich, alleging that after hip surgery on Dec. 7, 2016, they were shocked to learn from law enforcement that Dietrich had fondled her breasts and vaginal tissues when she was unconscious.

It had been reported to police after he allegedly was seen by other hospital employees fondling her breasts and vaginal area.

According to that lawsuit, an employee had been assigned to the operating room to observe Dietrich because the hospital was "concerned that he may have improperly touched previous patients."

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The couple's attorney, Christian Williams, alleged that the touching wasn't required for the procedures but rather that Dietrich had done it for purposes of sexual self-gratification or titillation.

He called the conduct Dietrich engaged in "so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and is to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community, causing emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person should be expected to endure."

Dietrich's attorney, Robert Mooney, said in a response to the lawsuit that Dietrich vehemently denied the allegations, saying he never improperly touched the woman and that "all acts he took during ... surgery were directly related to the procedure he was performing."

The case is set for a jury trial in October.

In an email Tuesday, Mooney said he will not comment on active litigation.

Chaloupka said her client had a follow-up evaluation by Dietrich, not knowing he had been seen touching her.

In October, 11 months after her surgery, she got a call from two representatives of the hospital who had been in the operating room who told her Dietrich had touched her vagina with his ungloved hand.

By then, Chaloupka said, Dietrich had been terminated by Nebraska Medicine. The hospital offered to pay for her client to get three sessions of mental health counseling. But, after starting counseling, she told them three sessions weren't enough.

"She remains shocked, confused, betrayed and mortified," the attorney said. "She will, forevermore, be someone whom a predator believed he could get away with assaulting."

Reached Tuesday, Chaloupka said patients "should not have to ask whether the doctor who will operate on them is under investigation." She said she is going to find out why this was allowed to happen and hopes anyone with information contacts her.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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Reporter

Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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