Doctor claims bodyguard, victim made up sexual assault

Monday, September 13, 2010 at 10:45pm

The attorney of a Nashville doctor being sued for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee called the suit a “joke” and has filed a response and counterclaim in the matter.

A civil suit filed in Davidson County Circuit Court in late July claimed Dr. Richard Feldman sexually assaulted a female employee late one night after they and two others flew down to Destin, Fla., for an overnight trip to the beach.

The suit also claims the doctor fired the woman after he found out she was seeking legal advice regarding the alleged incident.

But attorney Shawn Sirgo, representing Feldman, said two disgruntled former employees concocted the allegations as revenge for being terminated from Feldman’s Doctor’s Diet Program.

“It’s a waste of time,” Sirgo said. “This is just an abusive process … with an ulterior motive.”

Answering the sexual assault claim, Sirgo denies any criminal wrongdoing by the doctor stating in the counterclaim that the doctor never touched the woman and a manager of the company, not Feldman, terminated her from the Doctor’s Diet Program in mid-May for repeatedly falsifying her time sheet.

Holly Jackson, attorney for the alleged sexual assault victim, said that claim is an excuse for firing the woman.

“It is our position that that is just the cover up reason for the actual occurrences, that that was not the real reason she was fired.”

The counterclaim states the alleged sexual assault victim [The City Paper does not identify victims of sexual assault.] and Michael Kirkup, Feldman’s driver and bodyguard until being fired around the same time, conspired against Feldman, making up the whole sexual assault claim for money and “personal revenge.” It also alleges the two invaded Feldman’s right to privacy by making false claims against him.

Feldman is countersuing the two former employees for $1 million, attorney’s fees and other damages.

Jackson and Divyesh Gopal, another attorney hired by the woman, were preparing their response to the counterclaim and expected to file it in the next couple of weeks.

As for the claim that the story was concocted as revenge against the doctor, Jackson said it was without merit and they would seek to have it dismissed.

Kirkup said he wouldn’t have known anything about an alleged sexual assault if the doctor hadn’t first bragged about it to him.

“He’s crooked and his lawyer’s crooked,” Kirkup said. “And they’re going to try to make it look like he didn’t do anything, but that’s not the case.”

Sirgo, who was unavailable for comment on a previous City Paper story regarding the initial sexual assault suit, said he was waiting to discuss the suit until after filing the counterclaim and after a court date on an unrelated charge in Williamson County.

In that case, Feldman was arrested for allegedly flashing a gun at another driver while the two were in traffic near Cool Springs Galleria in June. Those charges were retired last week and if Feldman stays out of trouble for six months, the arrest will be expunged from his record.

Sirgo said there was no gun and what the other driver saw was Feldman’s silver cell phone case.