Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky File First Civil Action On Behalf of Victims Against Accused Berks County, Pennsylvania Serial Child Sexual Predator Dr. Justin S. Rutherford. A teenage boy was among those secretly recorded while using the bathroom.
The first civil action was filed today against alleged serial child sexual predator Dr. Justin S. Rutherford, the Pennsylvania, physician facing dozens of criminal charges, including that he drugged and then sexually abused young boys in his Douglassville home, and that he used a hidden camera to record house guests – including minors – using a second-floor bathroom, according to attorneys from the Philadelphia firm Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C.. The firm represents the 13-year-old victim (Minor John Doe) who was among those allegedly secretly photographed. The lawsuit was filed in Berks County Court of Common Pleas.
Lawyers Kristen Gibbons Feden and Steven G. Wigrizer, of SMB, said the five-count complaint (Jane Doe et al vs. Justin Rutherford et al, No. 21 15010 Berks County Court of Common Pleas) includes claims of gross negligence, invasion of privacy, and negligent infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania Law, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and a jury trial. The victim’s parents are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Justin Rutherford unlawfully invaded the privacy of plaintiff Minor John Doe, as well as other young children, according to the criminal complaint, which refers to them being photographed – in stages of undress – with hidden, compact surveillance-type cameras in his five-bedroom Amity Township residence, including a bathroom,” said attorney Gibbons Feden.
“These vile actions took place in the house he lived in with his wife and teenage stepson, in a community where he was a trusted physician.” She heads SMB’s sexual assault unit and was among the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania prosecutors that convicted Bill Cosby of sexual abuse. “While Rutherford is being prosecuted by criminal authorities, it is important that his victims also obtain the full measure of justice to which they are entitled through our civil court system. This can happen in tandem and, with today’s filing, that process is now fully underway.”
Mr. Wigrizer, who leads the firm’s professional negligence unit, noted that the legal team has taken steps to secure certain of the Rutherfords’ assets. “Now awaiting trial, held on $5 million bail, he was a demonstrated flight risk and, on behalf of our clients, we did not want to take a chance he might also attempt to liquidate and conceal his assets. His victims – and we believe there are countless more yet to come forward – all deserve justice and court-supervision of his assets is but one step along that path.”. They noted the civil complaint asserts that the minor-victim –a friend of Rutherford’s step-child and a welcomed guest in their home – expected a safe and secure environment but was “made to endure a violative, intimidating, hostile, unsafe, unacceptable, and inappropriate environment and condition.”
After an extensive investigation, Rutherford was charged by Berks County authorities on October 1st, and taken into custody the next day at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Detectives from the Berks County District Attorney’s office, as part of their investigation, reportedly recovered evidence from the Rutherford house that included motion-activated digital camera equipment used to record thousands of non-consensual videos – dating back several years – allegedly depicting his victims and others as they used his second-floor bathroom.
“Approximately 300 videos and 900,000 pictures, some of defendant Justin Rutherford and a different minor (than the plaintiff) in the bathroom together in various stages of undress, were also found,” according to the complaint.
The 45 criminal counts against Rutherford include rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, possession of child pornography, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and criminal use of communication devices.
Note: The identities of the plaintiffs are filed using pseudonyms and it is requested that their privacy be respected. Any other Rutherford victims are encouraged to confidentially contact local law enforcement agencies, and may also contact the attorneys at SMB. Numerous resources are available regionally, statewide and nationally to those who suspect any form of child abuse, including sexual abuse. In Pennsylvania, these include the state confidential reporting hotline 1-800-932-0313 operated by the Commonwealth, services provided by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape , and in Berks County the District Attorney’s Office and Children and Family Services Agency.