LEBANON — The parents of a 12-year-old boy are speaking out for the first time, after they say a Lebanon pediatrician molested their son during an examination.
Boone County prosecutors criminally charged Dr. Jonathon Cavins last month with four felonies of child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor, and vicarious sexual gratification.
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Prosecutors say they’re aware of at least three juveniles who say they’re victims—ages 15, 14 and 12.
Today, the 12-year-old’s parents are speaking for the first time after filing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against a man they once considered like family.
The parents, who did not want to be identified out of concern for their son, took the now 12-year-old to Dr. Cavins starting when he was just a month old.
“It was like family,” the 12-year-old’s father said. “We had been going there for twelve years. You don’t think you have to think about that stuff when you’ve had somebody in your life that long.”
On February 4, 2019, the parents took their son to an appointment at Cavins’ Lebanon pediatrics office.
The parents said Cavins told them he needed to do a depression screening on their son.
“He said, ‘there’s some questions on there about you and we want the kids to answer comfortably,’” said the boy’s mother. “I trusted the doctor.”
After the exam, the 12-year-old’s parents said the doctor and their son were both acting strangely.
“The doctor was off, very red in the face and wouldn’t make eye contact,” the father said.
The family had not seen any red flags prior to that appointment.
When they got in the car, the parents said their son told them the doctor had touched him inappropriately.
"He just starts going into some detail, and we were just shocked and blown away," the dad said.
The parents called police, and Boone County prosecutors criminally charged Cavins, saying they found evidence that corroborated the 12-year old’s story.
After the 12-year-old accused Dr. Cavins, prosecutors said more alleged victims came forward and they filed additional charges.
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Meanwhile, the parents of the 12-year-old say their son is struggling with nightmares, tiredness and with trusting others.
"He's worried, he's scared,” the mom said. “He's definitely a different kid than he used to be. He’s uncomfortable around any male."
The family filed a civil lawsuit this week against Dr. Cavins, accusing him of sexually molesting their son and causing physical trauma and severe emotional distress.
"What he did was violate my child and what he did was wrong, and he absolutely needs to be held accountable for his actions," mom said. “He needs to be held accountable for forever changing my little boy’s life.”
The 12-year-old’s father said Cavins said he wants to hurt Cavins.
“Anything I can do for my son to make sure he gets justice and he gets help and this doctor is hurt just as bad as what he’s done to our child, I will be there doing it,” the dad said.
The boy’s mother says she always told her children they could trust doctors.
“You never think that’s something you’re going to have to take back and say ‘don’t trust anyone if it feels uncomfortable,’” mom said.
Attorneys at Cohen & Malad credit the 12-year-old for being brave enough to tell parents and police his story.
“The real reason we wanted to get this lawsuit on file is we want to encourage other parents who have kids who have been seen by Dr. Cavins to talk to their kids," said attorney Greg Laker, who represents the parents of the 12-year old in the civil case.
Laker pointed out just how quickly something like this can happen.
“The parents of this kid were sitting across the hall,” said Laker. “The doctor used the pretense of a depression screen to keep parents out of the room when this action happened.”
Attorney Ashley Hadler with Cohen & Malad said victims and their families need the support of the community.
“It's a health care provider - someone that we hold to the highest standard and we have the utmost trust in,” Hadler said. “If it can happen with a health care provider, it can happen with anyone."
Call 6 Investigates reached out to Dr. Cavins’ attorney about the civil lawsuit, but she declined to comment.
A jury trial in the criminal case is scheduled for July.
The 12-year-old parents are asking other parents to make sure your children know they can come to you if something is wrong.
"Keep the communication there, because had we not, this could have gone on for a while,” mom said. “Make sure you're talking to your kids and not just dismissing it, because it could be your kid too."
The 12-year-old’ parents said they told their son immediately that they believed him.
“I believed my kid immediately,” said mom. “My kid doesn’t lie. We’re always open and very honest.”
The Attorney General’s Office has filed an emergency petition to stop Dr. Cavins from practicing medicine. The Medical Licensing Board will make a decision at a hearing on March 28.
He’s no longer employed at Witham Health.
Call 6 Investigates checked with the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that a parent or chaperone is always present in the exams with young children.
When a child reaches adolescence, the teen should have some confidential time to chat with the doctor, but this is a decision made based on a conversation between parents, teen and physician, according to AAP.
If you have any concerns about any interactions that occurred during a visit with Dr. Cavins contact the Lebanon Police Department at 765-482-8836.
Witham Health Services issued the following statement about Cavins.
"We are shocked and troubled by the additional allegations of misconduct being made against Dr. Jonathon Cavins. We take this matter very seriously and Dr. Cavins is no longer employed here. Our top priority is the health and safety of our patients and we encourage anyone with information that might be useful in this case to contact the Lebanon Police Department.
We will continue our own internal investigation into this matter and we will also continue to cooperate fully with all involved agencies."