BECKLEY — Arguments were heard Tuesday by Circuit Judge Darl W. Poling in one of three cases against Dr. Zouhair Kabbara alleging sexual harassment.
The hearing was held in the case against Kabbara and Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital (ARH). This hearing was on staying legal proceedings in the case until after a criminal investigation was completed.
At the hearing, the plaintiff's attorney, Stephen New, argued that Kabbara had left the country.
"I think that it's important for the court to note that what you didn't see in the defendants' motions and what you did not hear counsel for Zouhair Kabbara say today: he fled the country," New said during the hearing. "In the wake of the Register-Herald article, Zouhair Kabbara fled the country."
New said Kabbara is in Lebanon.
"He has absented himself from the reach of the United States authorities and the defense counsel wants to come in today and have that conduct rewarded by an indefinite state of these young ladies' civil actions," New said at the hearing.
New said there was no way to bring Kabbara back and he didn't believe Kabbara would come back on his own.
Ashley Pack, who is representing ARH, said a stay is appropriate until some of the related cases fall into place.
Poling granted a temporary state in the case and ordered ARH to respond to written discovery requests by Oct. 7.
On Sept. 19, Kendra Huff, Kabbara's attorney filed a partial motion to dismiss in the case. The hospital also filed a motion to dismiss on Sept. 24.
The lawsuit involves 15-year-old E.C. and her father, K.C.
In that case, the plaintiffs allege that E.C., who was working as an unpaid junior volunteer, was sexually harassed by Kabbara on several occasions during her time at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
Despite several complaints by K.C. and E.C., the hospital did nothing about Kabbar's behavior and eventually suspended their privileges from volunteering at the hospital.
New filed the lawsuit as a class action. He said if the case was denied class-action status, it would continue as an individual case for E.C. and her father.
Two other lawsuits have been filed against Kabbara, arguing that Kabbara raped two women—one, a former patient and the second, a high school senior who met Kabbara when she worked at T.J. Maxx.
In the case of the former patient, a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 5 before Poling.
Raleigh Circuit Court Case number: 19-C-359, 19-C-363, 19-C-365