NEW BEDFORD - The attorney for a New Bedford city councilor who was fired from his day-job over claims of sexual harassment says a newly publicized complaint only serves to clear his client's name.

Attorney George Leontire says the complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and detailed by a Boston Business Journal article shows there was a culture of sexual misconduct at St. Luke's Hospital after numerous allegations of innappropriate touching of sedated patients and sexual remarks about their nude bodies.

Southcoast Health President and CEO Keith Hovan says an independent investigation found no evidence to back up the claims made in the MCAD complaint.

Leontire says Brian Gomes, who was fired after 29 years with the hospital, was used as a scapegoat by Southcoast Health.

"The firing of Brian was an attempt, along with settling a significant cash amount to the complainant, to quash all the allegations against the hospital and protect them rather than dealing with the issue and appropriately dealing with Brian," said Leontire.

Gomes was fired along with another employee in June of 2017 in connection to an incident that took place two years prior where Gomes hugged a female employee after a confrontation. A $1.5 million wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Gomes against Southcoast Health alleges he was let go when the employee took to social media to complain that Gomes had been cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal investigation. Gomes' firing came several months after the employee filed a complaint with MCAD.

Leontire says the complaint filed by the disgruntled employee and the complaint containing the allegations of inappropriate touching of patients are separate and independent of each other. He suggests Southcoast Health saw an opportunity to distance themselves from the newly revealed allegations by firing Gomes as a sort of sacrificial lamb.

"They hoped by firing Brian and settling the MCAD complaint that this activity would never see the light of day," said Leontire. "What they didn't count on was that Brian wasn't going to take this lying down."

Leontire says what he and Brian have alleged in the lawsuit against Southcoast Health is coming to fruition with the latest developments. Leontire says there are ten upcoming depositions in Gomes' case, and they are planning to plead their case in front of a jury.

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