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Dr. Thomas Tyma Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail for Sexually Assaulting Patients

The rheumatologist, who formerly practiced in Wexford, was led away in handcuffs after sentencing.

Dr. Thomas Tyma was led away from court in handcuffs this morning after a judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail, a year of house arrest and six years of probation for touching former female patients inappropriately.

Common Pleas Court Judge Donna Jo McDaniel pronounced the sentence after hearing testimony from Tyma's family and three female victims.

In March, on women who were examined at Allegheny North Arthritis Center in Wexford, UPMC Passavant and Jameson South in New Castle, Lawrence County.

Most of the women testified that he had touched their breasts inappropriately, sometimes asking if they had had a breast exam recently.

Tyma's attorney, William H. Difenderfer, said he was "very relieved and pleased with the sentence. It could have been worse."

He said he is exploring options now and "most likely will file an appeal."

McDaniel spoke sternly to the 55-year-old rheumatologist from Franklin Park before sentencing.

"Thomas Tyma, you have hurt so many people," McDaniel said, as she referred to his family and patients.

The judge said she found it particularly offensive that he targeted women who were vulnerable. 

During the trial, victims told the court of their painful physical and emotional conditions as well as personal tragedies that were affecting their lives at the time they were touched inappropriately by Tyma.

As a victim finished her testimony today, McDaniel told Tyma that his "antics" in the courtroom were not helping him. She later explained that Tyma had been shaking his head and acting "dismissive."

"Your attitude in this trial and sentencing did not make this court think you are a good person," the judge said.

At the start of today's proceedings, Tyma's daughter Meredith, son Alex and wife Cathy told the judge of their support for him in shaky voices that were barely audible in the cavernous courtroom.

"The family stands by him. ... I stand by him," Meredith Tyma testified.

"He is a family man through and through," Alex Tyma said. "He is my father, my mentor, my personal hero."

Dr. Cathy Tyma described her husband as "the most respectful man I have ever known. ... a devoted husband and father ... beloved by his patients."

The three victims who testified painted a picture of a doctor they trusted who caused them shame and embarrassment. Other victims seated in the courtroom chose not to speak.

One victim who spoke with the media after the sentencing, Gina Joseph-Smiley, said she was "very happy he got what he deserved." (Patch usually does not publish the names of sexual assault victims, but Joseph-Smiley gave permission for her name to be used.)

During the trial and sentencing, Joseph-Smiley lamented that she waited a year to come forward and report Tyma.

For 15 years she worked as a social worker who talking to people about sticking up for themselves and doing what is right, she said. She described herself as a health-care professional and pharmaceutical sales person who serviced Tyma's office. 

Joseph-Smiley said she was Tyma's patient for 10 years and nothing inappropriate happened until her last visit.

Fear of not being believed, of losing her job and health insurance kept her from reporting the offense, she said.

Once she saw five women had stepped forward to report assaults, she said she thought she would be believed.

"I feel he is a sick individual," she told the media gathered around her after the sentencing.

The victims testified that they felt shame and embarrassment.

McDaniel told them there was no reason to feel that way, "You did nothing wrong."

The first victim to testify said her health-care information—which she thought was confidential—is now part of court records that are open to the public.

When she signed the complaint against Tyma, she gave up her privacy, she said.

Because of the case, she had to go through the shame and embarrassment of revealing the assault to her husband and children, she said. Also, she had to reveal her lupus diagnosis to colleagues and co-workers and she said she felt they treated her differently afterward.

She said it was "horrific" that Tyma disclosed her medical information in court during the trial, which made it part of the public record.

"Trust" is the key to the health-care field in which she works, she said, and now she finds herself doubting herself and other people's motives.

Smiley-Joseph said her primary care physician of 20-plus years, who she also considered a friend, treated her like she was a "crazed individual" after she reported being assaulted by Tyma.

When she fractured her hand, it took eight months to find someone to treat her because health-care professionals considered her a "problem patient," she said.

The third woman to testify said it was a "devastating experience for me and the women who had the courage to come forward."

She no longer has faith in the medical profession, she said, and is distraught when she has to see a doctor.

She went to a doctor seeking help and instead was assaulted, she said.

The victims said they agreed with the judge's surmissal that Tyma sought victims who were vulnerable.

Many of those testifying at the trial explained that while they were battling physical issues that sometimes involved a great deal of pain, they also were dealing with loved ones who were gravely ill.

A victim who spoke to the media, but preferred to remain anonymous, commended the judge for finding Tyma guilty and sending him to jail.

"If I can't trust a doctor, who can I trust?" a victim stated. "Just because a man puts on a white coat does not make him a God."

 

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Lhj May 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Dr. Tyma was my Dr for years and a great Dr. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have known of my many diseases! My prayers go out to him and his family! God is great and will do what's right!! My opinion.... Dr. Tyma was a wonderful thorough Doctor just doing his job!
Bill Claycomb May 24, 2012 at 03:40 PM
This is exactly why women dont come forward to report abuse from public positions. How in the Hell does a person who assualted so many women and get convicted on 17 counts walk away with only 60 days in jail and probation. The judge in this case should be ashamed of herself. You should all be ashamed of yourselves and I can say first hand from being in that courtroom that its an absolute discrace to the entire judicial system.
victimsfamily May 24, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I agree, this is NOT justice. This man took advantage of his position as a physician. Its a disgrace to the medical field and I say that as a member of the medical field. I hope these victims can at least take peace in the fact that they put a stop to this man. & he will never practice medicine again.
neveragain May 24, 2012 at 07:39 PM
As one of the victims when I read this this a wave of nausea came over me. I just thought what if no one had come forward, what if I had gone back, the assaults on every one escalated as time went on. People said you knew if you were in sales and a woman not to have lunch alone with Tyma. Who knows how many unreported cases are out there. Apparently he has 2 reputations that have finally been brought in to the light. I will never put my complete trust in another doctor ever.
Linda Graham-Love May 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
This is just wrong. I will go to my grave believing in his innocence and, if his attorney had done his job and presented the true facts, this would not have happened. I still pray he gets an appeal and a new trial and is found innocent because his life has been destroyed by misplaced allegations. All of the true facts need to come out and that did not happen at his farce of a trial.
victim May 24, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I was the first victim to come forward, and you have no idea how hard that decision was. I am happy that his family, friends, and the lucky patients didn't get to see the side of Tyma that we as his victims saw. But just because you didn't see that side of him doesn't mean it wasn't there. So don't presume to know that the facts were not presented. The facts of the case were shown in their entirety. Even his own expert witness said that according to our statements it was not a normal physical exam. I also saw his expert witness in his office and did not recieve an exam like Tyma gave me. And I hope the people on here raging about his innocence never find themselves in the situation we were put in, and then have people not believe them.
Sue Tobac May 24, 2012 at 11:02 PM
WELL MS FIRST VICTIM, let me tell you that Dr. Tyma SAVED MY LIFE 10 years ago, & no thanks to you and the other SO CALLED VICTIMS have now ruined not just Dr. Tyma's life & his family, but also his TRUE PATIENTS that KNOW HE IS INNOCENT. I will also go to my grave knowing DR. TYMA IS INNOCENT. But like the saying goes, what goes around comes around and KARMA IS A BITCH. As well as GOD punishes those who lie. You & your followers got lucky with such an awful judge. No evidence, just all hear say....shame, shame, shame on her for first believing the FALSE ACCUSATIONS & not having any evidence. I hope that you & your followers are happy now....!!!
Sue Tobac May 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM
You know what DOES NOT make any sense to me...If I felt that i was touched inappropriately, I would have told whatever Dr. it was, to get the hell away from me and I would have yelled for a nurse to please call the police. Then I would have said that I was touched inappropriately and once the police came I would have filed my complaint.....Any woman in their RIGHT STATE OF MIND would have done this...But no, one so-called victim went back a year later ??? One told her son who WAS A POLICEMAN ??? And one told her husband who was waiting outside in the car....??? If that was son or husband, I gurantee that something would have happened long before January 2011. Poor Dr. Tyma's trial was such a farce.
Sue Tobac May 24, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Don't flatter yourself.....You should be ashamed .... !!! If you were a REAL WOMAN, you would have reported it when it happened.....but like ALL THE REST....you jumped on the ban wagon...!!! God know's the truth, and I suggest you pray and ask God for, forgiveness for ruining a great Dr.'s life as well as his family and his TRUE PATIENTS.
Sue Tobac May 24, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I suggest you read my 2nd comment....Maybe you should have yelled out into the nurses station & asked them to call the police right then & there.....I don't believe you or any of your followers.....!!! Just because you have breasts, don't mean you can go around accusing Dr.'s of FALSE ACCUSATIONS ( Just Saying )
Sue Tobac May 24, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Linda, I agree with you 150%
Linda Graham-Love May 25, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I have been molested as a child and a victim of domestic violence, and had my home broken into and was sexually assaulted. I worked with victims for 23 years. I wouldn't bring that up but you need to know I understand victimization. I do not believe you are lying. I believe you are mistaken. I am truly sorry for anybody who felt they were inappropriately touched but, he examined my heart, and I felt I was getting a thorough exam, not a fondling. My exam wasn't any different than those by my cardiologist. I was his patient for 14 years and I feel the community has lost an exceptional doctor who cared about his patients. I've been to many doctors over the years and, so many just want you in and out and get paid for a short exam. Dr. Tyma always kept informed on the latest medication trials that could possibly benefit his patients and truly respected and cared for his patients. So, I do know how hard your decision was to come forward, just as it is hard for me to publicly identify myself and state my absolute belief in his innocence
Mark A. May 25, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Sue is one of those people who is very very very very confident how she would have reacted. People like that, when faced with an actual situation, always do absolutely nothing and slink away. Sue, you seem to feel justified in shouting and yelling at these victims when you have absolutely no real idea what happened in that office, one way or the other. You should be ashamed of yourself. I'm glad you aren't a person of consequence in any way, your twitter feed alone shows your opinions are childish.
Sue Tobac May 29, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Mark, you have NO CLUE what type of person I am....so don't even begin to assume that I would NOT do anything, because I've been in a situation before and I did open my mouth, and that person did get in trouble. But, everyone is entitled to their own opinion...you know " Freedom Of Speech " !!! And I may NOT know what happened in that office, but I know in my heart that Dr. Tyma is innocent, so I'm just going to leave it at that, because honestly....you are not worth my time of day !!!!
D. Gerst May 30, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Tyma's attorney, William H. Difenderfer, said he was "very relieved and pleased with the sentence. It could have been worse." I don't know this Dr. or whether or not he is guilty but this statement by his attorney sure does sound like an admission of guilt. an innocent person or that persons attorney does not find relief when they are charged with a crime they did not commit.
Susan M. June 01, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Ummm, he was already convicted of the crime...this was sentencing, ding dong. It absolutely does NOT sound like an admission of guilt!! How ridiculous for you to say that. It COULD have gone much worse. He could have received a huge sentence for a crime he claims he did not commit. I don't know who to believe, but I seriously wonder WHY? these "victims" did not report the crime when it happened. If an MD touched me in a way that I felt was not appropriate for the type of exam I was receiving, I would MOST definitely report it.
D. Gerst June 01, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Susan, let me try to explain what I wanted to get across without you getting your panties in a bunch. Let's say it is you who are charged for a crime you did not commit, and your attorney (at sentencing) says " I am so relieved you only got 10 years instead of life in prison Susan" (keep in mind you are innocent). does this make you feel better or do you think....wait a minute, I am innocent. my attorney should not be relieved that I got ANY jail time....(unless that attorney also felt you are guilty). did I talk slow enough for you this time? as far as the victims waiting to speak out...everyone is different, YOU may be able to confront the doctor at that time, but obviously not everyone has the same temperment as a pit bull.
Susan M. June 04, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Interesting comment but not realistic. It does not mean he is guilty. Also, if someone disagrees with your opinion, it does not mean they are a pit bull or that you need to talk slower. I got your ridiculous point the first time you said it. Enough said.

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