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OBGYN now faces 53 misconduct claims that he crossed line with patients

53 people claim suburban OBGYN crossed line while offering care
53 people claim suburban OBGYN crossed line while offering care 02:52

CHICAGO (CBS) – A west suburban OBGYN has been stripped of his state medical license, as now 53 people allege he crossed the line while offering care.

Dr. Vernon Cannon was an OBGYN at the DuPage Medical Group - now known as Duly Health and Care.

In January, we first reported on Dr. Cannon as allegations and lawsuits piled up claiming he would meet with patients while intoxicated. On Wednesday, a different group of former patients now alleged a different kind of violation.

CBS 2's Chris Tye heard from an attorney for Cannon for the first time Wednesday. Women have alleged Cannon would disrobe in front of them – and some say he asked to go on dates and set them up with friends.

They said Cannon's alleged actions were a breach that rattled their faith in the medical system.

"I do have tattoos on my lower abdomen, and that's how our conversation went – and what medical personnel would be taking off their shirt and showing their patients all their tattoos? Where he would unbutton his shirt, took off his lab jacket, and proceed to show me that he was fully tatted?" said Christina Deeke, who was a patient and worked in the same office Dr. Cannon. "I was scared. I was scared."

Elizabeth Godella was a teenager when she says it happened to her.

"To a certain extent where I'm like, he's a doctor. Being a minor too, I was scared," Godella said. "Commenting on tattoos that I have, which then – fast-forward to now, he is now undressed, showing me his tattoos."

Suburban OBGYN accused of crossing the line while offering care 02:26

Deeke and Godella are two of what are now 53 patients claiming misconduct by the OBGYN that first made news in January - over allegations he was inebriated on the job.

In 2019, Cannon was put on a leave of absence from his post at Duly Health and Care in Wheaton. But even after that leave, patient Amy Fuentes believes he was drunk while delivering her baby.

"His eyelids were very droopy, and he was moving very slow," Fuentes said. "It was really disturbing for me."

Cannon has since left the practice - and been banned from practicing medicine.

Not long after the first suits were file, one of the plaintiffs was part of a disciplinary hearing with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which stripped him of Cannon medical license "due to unprofessional conduct."

In one of the prior cases, a former patient claims she knew something was off immediately when she went in for a routine checkup.

"When I had met with him the apportionment was brief as in like five minutes," said Karin Stortz, former patient. "Dilated pupils, slurred speech, wasn't making good eye contact it didn't seem like I was even really there."

Duly Health and Care, which employed Cannon for 13 years, released this statement:

"The actions alleged are unacceptable and inconsistent with Duly's mission to provide outstanding patient care…. Duly vehemently denies that it knowingly allowed Dr. Cannon to engage in misconduct, and Dr. Cannon has not had any patient contact at Duly since he departed the practice in 2020."

Cannon has not been criminally charged.

"In terms of criminality, it's kind of a gray area," said attorney Evan Smola, "because it's not conventional sexual assault."

Late Wednesday, Robert Larsen, an attorney for the former doctor, issued a statement: "As a Defendant in a medically related claim, Dr. Cannon is limited by HIPAA in what he can say in response.  Suffice it to say we deny these allegations, and intend to defend all of these claims.  When we do we believe the true facts will come out."

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