Update: Valencia College bans vaginal probes following investigation
UPDATE: Valencia College President Dr. Sandy Shugart shared a statement on Tuesday addressing the controversy surrounding the college's sonography program.
The college has permanently banned students from having to perform vaginal probes on each other.
"Following a comprehensive external investigation and a thorough internal review, we identified teaching methods that employ sophisticated simulators and have decided to permanently discontinue the use of student volunteers for transvaginal ultrasound scanning," said Shugart in the statement on the Valencia website. "As part of our commitment to creating and nurturing a caring, inclusive and safe environment that improves student preparedness for professional success, Valencia will continue to review and evaluate all of our educational programs on a frequent basis."
It was announced on Monday that two medical diagnostic students at Valencia College were allegedly forced to undergo vaginal examinations as part of classroom training.
Valencia public relations director Carol Traynor said the college has not been served a lawsuit, so she is therefore unable to comment at this time.
"The media's reporting that a suit has been filed, but we have not seen it, and are not sure when, or if, we will be served with a lawsuit," Traynor said.
According to CNN, the details of the incident are outlined in a federal lawsuit that was filed Thursday against Valencia and three instructors: Maureen Bugnacki, Linda Shaheen and Barbara Ball.
"[The suit] alleges that medical diagnostic students at the college were forced to submit to the examination of their sexual organs under threat of having their grades reduced or of being blacklisted by future employers," CNN reported.
The suit claims that Barbara Ball, the chair of the college's sonography program, told students "they could find another school if they did not wish to be probed."
The women "experienced discomfort and embarrassment" due to the inappropriate comments and penalties made by the defendants, the suit says.
A student announced during the college's orientation that "the Medical Diagnostic Sonography Program's faculty believed that students should undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedures in order to become better sonography technicians," the suit claims.
"Valencia positioned these transvaginal probes as voluntary, but its actual policy and practice was that they were not," the suit continues. "Plaintiffs would disrobe in a restroom, drape themselves in towels and traverse the sonography classroom in full view of instructors and other students. A student would place a condom over the probe and then apply generous amounts of lubrication to the probe. In some cases, the student would have to sexually 'stimulate' plaintiffs in order to facilitate inserting the probe into plaintiffs' vaginas."
"The lawsuit seeks a ban on further forced probes at the college, a jury trial, compensation and punitive damages, and a court order to require training for college staff and faculty about student rights," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Traynor said the college has released a statement regarding Valencia's Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, stating that "the use of volunteers — including fellow students — for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice.
"Valencia's sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment."
Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.