A federal lawsuit alleging that a Wilkes County surgeon tried to blackmail a nurse practitioner into having sex with him has been dismissed.
The lawsuit accused the surgeon of threatening to reveal secretly-recorded conversations he alleged would have been personally damaging to the nurse’s husband and other members of her family.
The dismissal comes a little more than a month after an attorney for the nurse filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Western District of North Carolina. The defendant, Jon Wesley Thompson, is a former doctor at Wilkes Medical Center, which is managed by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. Thompson never filed a written response to the lawsuit, which was filed on July 21. He still has an active medical license.
On Aug. 13, Kenneth J. Carlson, a mediator, filed court documents indicating that the lawsuit was completely settled, and Magistrate Judge David C. Kessler granted a request from both parties to extend the deadline for filing a stipulation of dismissal to Oct. 10 to allow them to finalize the terms of the settlement.
However, a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit with prejudice was filed on Aug. 25. The dismissal means that the lawsuit cannot be re-filed.
Howard C. Jones, Thompson’s attorney, declined to comment on Friday. Jenny L. Sharpe, the nurse’s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment. Court documents had no details on the settlement, which is likely confidential.
The nurse had sought more than $525,000 in damages and made four claims — violation of the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, invasion of privacy, civil sexual assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit said the nurse had trouble sleeping and is dealing with anxiety, depression, humiliation and embarrassment.
According to the lawsuit, the nurse started working with Thompson, described as being the only general surgeon in Wilkes County at one time, in 2017, after Baptist took over management of Wilkes Medical Center. For four years, things were fine between the two, but then on May 17, Thompson told the nurse he had problems in his marriage and that he found the nurse attractive. He also told the nurse that he was interested in having a relationship outside of work, the lawsuit alleged.
Thompson later apologized, but a few weeks later, Thompson was sitting in his truck and told the nurse that he had audio and video recordings that contained “highly personal, confidential, and potentially damaging information” about the woman, the lawsuit said. The recordings consisted of conversations that the woman had with someone else, and the lawsuit did not provide details about what those conversations were about.
Thompson told the nurse that he had copies of the recordings on his cellphone and in other places and that there were devices that could capture conversations simply by pointing the devices. He further said that cameras and other devices existed that could see through tinted windows.
Thompson told the nurse that if the nurse agreed to have “physical alone time” with him for one hour, twice a month, for a year, he would not release the recordings. He also told her several times that she was attractive and that he could help her get bigger bonuses from Baptist. The lawsuit said Thompson told her that their professional relationship would not change because he believed she could “compartmentalize” the sexual relationship.
The nurse said she wanted to wait until June 14 before making a decision and Thompson again threatened to release the recordings if she refused. He also said she could lose her job if she didn’t comply with his demands, according to the lawsuit.
At one point on June 14, Thompson became suspicious and placed his hands on the nurse’s waist “in an aggressive manner without her consent.” On June 15, when the nurse and her husband came in the hospital for a scheduled medical procedure, Thompson asked the husband for his contact information, including an email address, the lawsuit said. Thompson also sent a friend request on Facebook to the nurse’s grandfather and husband.
The nurse filed a sexual harassment complaint on June 16, and Thompson was fired two days later. In a statement, Baptist officials declined to comment on the lawsuit but expressed support for the nurse.