A Florida college is being sued after two students alleged that they were forced to have transvaginal probes performed on them on multiple occasions.
According to the federal lawsuit filed on Thursday against Valencia College and three of its instructors, several medical diagnostic students were forced to have their sexual organs examined. The suit alleges that they were threatened to have their grades lowered and be blacklisted by employers, according to CNN.
The defendants named in the suit are Maureen Bugnacki, Linda Shaheen and Barbara Ball.
Despite the lawsuit, the practice of peer physical examination is a common one in medicine.
“Valencia positioned these transvaginal probes as voluntary,” says the lawsuit, “but its actual policy and practice was that they were not.”
It goes on to describe the incidents in which the students “endured these invasive probes without a modicum of privacy. Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels, and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students.
“A student would place a condom over the probe and then apply generous amounts of lubrication to the probe,” the lawsuit described. “In some cases, the student would have to sexually ‘stimulate’ plaintiffs in order to facilitate inserting the probe into plaintiffs’ vaginas.”
The women were described to have “experienced discomfort and embarrassment each time they had to endure this forced probing of their sexual organs.”
The lawsuit also makes note of an instance in which Barbra Ball made inappropriate comments to a student being examined.
“Defendant Ball’s comments can only be described as bizarre during some of these forced probing sessions,” the suit says. “She allegedly approached one student … during a probing session and stated [she] was ‘sexy’ and should be an ‘escort girl.'"
The school’s public relations director, Carol Traynor, told reporters that the school has not yet been served a lawsuit so she could not comment. The school did issue a statement regarding the matter though.
"The use of volunteers—including fellow students—for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice,” the statement read. “Valencia College's sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment."
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