A Doctor Assaulted Her At Rikers, But He Wasn’t The Only One

doctor folding arms
Zain Murdock
June 5, 2024

Alaysha Robinson hadn’t been to a regular doctor before her incarceration. So, feeling vulnerable and alone, she found solace in the physician she met at Rikers. He seemed to care about her health. She trusted him. But, in the back of her mind, she wondered if the regular “breast examinations” he performed on her were standard.

They weren’t. Between 2013 and 2014, the doctor assaulted Robinson dozens of times, abusing his medical authority and necessity, and exploiting her precarity and trust.

Under the Adult Survivors Act, 32 cases accusing Rikers medical professionals of sexual assault have surfaced, from 1986 to 2018. Abuse masquerading as routine healthcare is a form of oppression endured by incarcerated and non-incarcerated women alike. Generations ago, that looked like forced sterilization and foundational gynecological experimentation.

Institutionalized misogynoir still enables these assaults in medical exam rooms. The FBI, USA Gymnastics, and educational institutions looked the other way as Larry Nassar molested hundreds. For decades, Columbia University prioritized its reputation over ousting OB-GYN Robert Hadden. This year, 500 women sued Chicago OB-GYN Fabio Ortega. Ortega had abused one of them during a rape kit examination.

This abuse is even more prevalent behind bars, with a system that doesn’t protect us from sexual violence but facilitates it instead. The voices of incarcerated victims and survivors like Robinson are critical to dismantling it.