Dr. Thomas Tyma to Stand Trial in Additional Patients' Cases

Altogether, 15 women have testified that the Wexford arthritis doctor touched their breasts inappropriately during exams.

The Wexford doctor accused of fondling the breasts of women patients during exams was ordered to stand trial in five more cases after a preliminary hearing this morning in which his former patients testified against him.

That brings to 15 the number of women who have testified against Dr. Thomas Tyma in the courtroom of Magisterial District Judge Regis Welsh Jr.

Ten women testified against the 53-year-old Sewickley resident in a Feb. 11 preliminary hearing. Some of the women have also testified that the doctor touched their buttocks inappropriately during exams at his office in Wexford.

The latest cases heard today now move to Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, where a formal arraignment is set for April 7.

Tyma, a rheumatologist with Allegheny North Arthritis Center of Wexford, has been charged with one count each of indecent assault and harassment in each of the 15 cases. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. 

Defense attorney Stanton D. Levenson asked for the charges to be dismissed in four of the five cases heard today, saying prosecutors did not make their cases by calling an expert to testify what constitutes a routine exam.

"These witnesses basically testified that the defendant touched their breasts" over their clothing and with a stethoscope, said Levenson.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Evashavik said common sense was all that was needed, not an expert.

"There are no joints in that area. There are no joints in your breasts or buttocks," she said.

In addition to the cases in Allegheny County, charges of indecent assault and harassment have been filed in New Castle in the case of a woman who was treated by Tyma at Jameson Hospital South Campus. The preliminary hearing in that case is set for March 17.

The women are not identified because they are alleged victims of sexual assault. 

Today's preliminary hearing originally involved four cases, but police filed charges in another case this morning.

Levenson waived arraignment for the new case, permitting to proceed directly to the preliminary hearing.

All five women today testified that the doctor touched, squeezed or rubbed their breasts -- and their buttocks, in some cases -- in a manner that did not seem consistent with their medical complaints of arthritic pain in joints or the overall pain of fibromyalgia.

One woman said she had seen Tyma every four months for years, and he always performed a breast examination on her.

"I have rheumatoid arthritis; it affects the joints," she testified. 

She said Tyma would place his hand on each breast and rub in circles, as a gynecologist does when looking for a lump in the breast.

Tyma also routinely asked her if she did breast self exams, she said.

"I thought it was part of the routine," she said. Upon questioning, she said no one else was in the room during the breast exams  with her and the doctor.

When she went for her regular exam this month, she said, a physician's assistant saw her and the exam was the same as before with one exception.

"What did not happen [was] there was no breast exam," she said, nor questions about breast self exams. "No one seemed to be the least bit interested in my breasts."

Judge Welsh asked if the arthritis doctor she saw before Tyma ever examined her the way Tyma did.

"No, she did not," the woman replied.

Levenson asked the women why they waited to file charges against Tyma. Some of the alleged incidents took place years ago.

Their reasons varied.

One woman said she had a multitude of problems and feared coming forward. She is a pharmaceutical sales representative who opted not to report an incident when Tyma allegedly squeezed both of her breasts during an exam.

At the time, she said, her father-in-law was dying.

Someone dying "seems to override this issue," she told the court.


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