LOS ANGELES (CN) – A nurse claims the chairman of a hospital’s surgery department injected her with “truth serum” during a job interview, then “pulled his pants down … and injected himself in the groin area,” proceeded to ask her about her sexual fantasies, and offered her $1,000 to strip. She sued Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital and Dr. Jeffrey W. Kronson, for assault, battery, sexual harassment and other charges, in Superior Court.
Bettina La Savio claims that Kronson, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, contacted her in December 2009 and asked her to apply for a nursing position at Gia Laser Aesthetic Center, which he claimed to own. La Savio says she had worked as a nurse at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital since September 2008.
La Savio says that when she met Kronson at the medical office on Jan. 2 this year for an interview, Kronson “stated that he actually wanted to interview her for an entirely different job – nothing to do with the Gia Center. The job would be that of a sales position in his father’s company that would allow plaintiff to travel all over the world earning substantial money.”
She says that Kronson told her his father was “involved in numerous businesses that required extreme secrecy and privacy and that his father needed an employee to ‘close’ these private deals. He assured plaintiff that all of the business was completely legal, but required absolute discretion.”
The complaint continues: “Given the extreme sensitivity of any such employment, defendants Kronson insisted that all candidates for potential employment be injected with sodium pentothal during the interview. He explained that this was ‘truth serum,’ and stated this had to be done to ensure that all employment questions would be answered truthfully. Defendant Kronson made it very clear that injecting plaintiff with sodium pentothal was absolutely necessary and a condition precedent to plaintiff’s consideration as an employee.
“Defendant Kronson assured plaintiff that the questions he would be asking involved proper issues of ethics and how she would respond in certain situations. Plaintiff agreed, believing defendant Kronson was a trustworthy physician. After defendant Kronson injected plaintiff with the alleged sodium pentothal, he proceeded to ask questions about her person life and her sexual preferences.
“In the midst of his questioning, defendant Kronson pulled his pants down in front of plaintiff and injected himself in the groin area. He represented the injection was also sodium pentothal. Plaintiff became extremely alarmed given the highly inappropriate course of conduct of defendant Kronson at this purported job interview.
“Defendant’s highly offensive conduct also included asking plaintiff to tell him her deepest, darkest secrets; if she found him attractive; if she thought about him when she had sex; asking about her sexual fantasies, and telling her to take off her clothes.
“Plaintiff was feeling dizzy and grew increasingly scared. Defendant Kronson then injected her again with some more of the medication, telling her that she not ‘uninhibited’ enough.
“Plaintiff wanted to leave but was afraid he would physically stop her and sexually attack her as he kept asking a lot of sexual questions. He kept saying he wanted to see her breasts, her butt, and her vagina. He also asked if plaintiff wanted to see his private parts. He offered plaintiff a $1,000 checking account if she took off her clothes. She refused.”
When La Savio did not “respond to his advances,” she says, Kronson “became increasingly upset and very agitated.” He “paced back and forth, up and down the hall, clenching and unclenching his fists over and over again. Plaintiff wanted to cry and escape but was certain he would attack her and/or give her another injection. He kept asking her to take her clothes off and offered to undress for her. He gave himself another injection at some point. He kept telling plaintiff how she disappointed him and that she was not ‘right’ for the job,” the complaint states.
“Plaintiff eventually was able to leave but continued to feel ill and extremely frightened, especially since defendant told her during the course of ‘the employment interview’ that one of his father’s businesses was the sale of weapons. Plaintiff could not sleep at all that night.”
La Savio says that on the next day, Jan. 3, she told a nursing supervisor, Ray Smith, about the incident. She says Smith took her to the emergency room to have lab work done to test for sodium pentothal, and that “the tests revealed that defendant Kronson had in face injected her with another drug and not sodium pentothal. Plaintiff also reported the conduct to police.”
La Savio says she made multiple complaints to hospital managers, but Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital failed to take any action against Kronson, who remained on staff. She adds: “Defendant Kronson continued to identify himself as chair of the Department of Surgery at Presbyterian Hospital. Plaintiff was forced to resign her position at PIH and relocate to another city.
“Plaintiff is informed and believes that defendant Kronson has a pattern and practice of engaging in this type of unlawful conduct and that he has in fact done this to other women.”
La Savio seeks punitive damages for assault, battery, privacy invasion, intentional misrepresentation, sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment and retaliation, constructive wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Maria Diaz with Allred, Maroko & Goldberg.