A woman, who once worked for Dr. Ugochukwu Akoma called Kandit after watching the account of “Susan,” saying, “I believe her.” She then broke down in tears admitting, “because it happened to me.” To protect her identity, we will call her Veronica.
Kandit in mid-January ran a nearly-one hour testimonial from Susan, who filed criminal complaints against Dr. Akoma for allegedly assaulting and harassing her sexually. She was his patient, according to her testimony. He knew about her issues overcoming a traumatic childhood, when she was repeatedly raped; and he prescribed medication to deal with those issues.
“He picks his prey,” Veronica told Kandit. “He knows they’ve had some history of abuse, and he uses that.”
Veronica said Dr. Akoma made unwanted sexual advances at his clinic that began as veiled office banter, then inappropriate touching, and finally, assault. “He grabbed my ass,” she said through tears. That was the moment she knew she could no longer work there. She told him that.
“He pushed me against the wall and he said ‘no, you’re staying here,'” she said. She was able to escape and purposely made a scene, yelling, “I quit!” so her co-workers and patients in the other rooms could hear her.
(See Veronica’s full statement following the next segment)
System not helpful to victims
Like Susan, Veronica has little faith in Guam’s criminal justice system. Based on previous experience, she believes victims will be treated poorly by the justice system. “The detective made me feel like it was my fault,” Susan told Kandit. “There has just been no regard for victims’s privacy,” in these situations, Veronica feared. “I just can’t imagine the number of victims out there who never come forward because they’re so ashamed and they don’t want to feel any more shame,” Veronica said.
She decided to come forward after hearing Susan’s story.
“I cannot stand men like him, who take advantage of women,” she said. “He’s a doctor and he knew what these women were going through.”
Kandit reached out to Dr. Akoma via email to ask whether he wanted to tell his side of the story relating to Susan’s allegations. His attorney responded, stating his client’s hope the allegations would not be debated in a public forum, but through the criminal trial process.
The main reason Susan told her story to Kandit was her belief police investigators did not care about her case. She fears the system is biased toward Dr. Akoma. Her case was closed by Guam Police Department and forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution. Susan also believes Dr. Akoma’s colleagues, who populate the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, are protecting him. It is unclear when or even if the OAG will prosecute the case. Neither has the GBME revealed any progress in its inspection of Susan’s complaint there.
“I’m doing all the calling, no one is calling me,” Susan said of both the OAG and the GBME.
I met Dr. Akoma during his tenure at the Guam Regional Medical City Emergency Department, when we later followed him to Hepzibah Family Medicine Clinic. At the time he was the only accessible doctor to take Medicaid and then became our primary care physician.
During my time as his patient I disclosed to him that I needed more help with managing my PTSD, depression, and was seeking help with acquiring counseling/therapy. I remember him telling me I just needed to find a boyfriend or a man to comfort my extra stressors and to pray. I found the comment odd, but disregarded it as him not understanding the complete context of why I was seeking care. During the course of knowing him and providing care to myself and my family, Dr. Akoma learned more about my academics and offered me an unpaid internship opportunity to expand my nursing skills and knowledge. I took the offer and it was then that this all began (October 2020).
I served initially as his medical scribe and quickly learned the ins and outs of how the clinic ran. Since he ran a small clinic his staff only consisted of two personnel and he was constantly asking me to fill in for roles when people called out. I began to notice his demands for my presence far exceeded the role of an internship and I had asked to take a step back from my duties as I currently was in school and had worked another job.
Dr. Akoma then became obsessed with me. He would tell me he needed me to come in for my medication refills or to help just because he was asking as a friend. I felt uncomfortable a lot of the times in the clinic because he would place his hands on my knees, whisper in my ears tasks he needed done, or observed exams, which struck me as odd. For example, during heart and lung sounds on minors or women he would just pull their shirts forward and drop his stethoscope and listen, which struck me as odd because I was always taught to ask permission from patients regardless of gender. I did not know anymore than what I was trained to do, so I kept my head down and plugged away at my duties and tasks that were required of me.
After a couple months of working for him he offered me an opportunity to come on board the team as a paid medical administrator in which he would also pay for my schooling. He needed help with his clinic and keeping up to date on policies, management, and overall health of the clinic management, which was lacking. It was during these periods that the interactions with him became more intense. He would make jokes in the office saying that in Africa they are allowed to have extra wives and that he wishes I would consider. I took this as work office banter until it became extremely uncomfortable.
One day he had asked me to sit on his lap which I refused. He was trying to explain to me the inner workings of Elation Health (a medical software program he was interested in acquiring). I told him ‘no’ and he said I should pull up a chair (next to him) and (I told him) that was wildly inappropriate. He laughed and said he was just joking.
Other times I would be at the front desk completing employee or patient paperwork and he would brush across my buttocks with his hands and say ‘excuse me for bumping into you.’
Dr. Akoma always sought extra time outside of clinic hours or duties to ask me for favors in helping him find a home, or obtain licenses in Saipan (which were thankfully denied), or expanding his business to outside entities. During these business meetings his wife never attended, though she was listed as an employee of his business (manager). When I would go, I felt out of place (not in my scope) to answer business questions. I began to realize that it was my actual presence he was requesting and I became uncomfortable.
I had talked to Dr. Akoma about backing off and that I was not emotionally, physically, or remotely interested in him in that way. I wanted to do the job I was hired to do and would like a work environment conducive to that. He became upset and tried to kiss me saying that I wanted him and was fighting him. I told him ‘no’ and then began to leave the room.
Dr. Akoma has a camera that sits in the front office that records all movement activities in the clinic and he knows that only his office and patient rooms are the only rooms that camera cannot reach or hear anything. That was the first incident. I left and he immediately began calling and stalking me. He then apologized explaining that he was out of line.
The second and third incident were more aggressive, where he tried to reach into my pants and my shirt. I was alone at the time as I normally came in early to handle VA patient claims in Hawaii. I momentarily froze and did not know what in the world was going on. I can’t remember all of the details but I just remember getting angry and yelling at him to stop and that I want him off of me. He tried to force himself onto me and I got up and left the back door of the clinic.
I did not know what to do or who to talk to as I was currently going through my own troubles with the court system at the time fighting for criminal justice in another criminal sexual conduct case, where someone close to me is a survivor. All of which Dr. Akoma knew. He knew I didn’t have a place to go to because I did not want to distract from getting justice in the other case— justice it deserved.
He later changed my medication from amitriptyline to xanax after this. I refused to go back to the clinic in which he then again apologized saying he would never do that again and that it was clear I wanted nothing to do with him. He just needed me to do my job as he hired me to do because I was good at it. He promised he would never do that again.
I told the staff not of what happened but that I felt uncomfortable around him and never wanted to be left alone with him again. I also made it a policy to never leave the clinic alone and to always leave in pairs. The final straw was the day I resigned. Dr. Akoma was upset that I had meant what I had said to leave me alone and that I had told my significant other of his antics. My partner would wait at the clinic for me or answer my work calls after work.
After leaving during a scheduled request time off to meet with my therapist Dr. Akoma called me yelling at an error he wanted me to fix on his behalf. I told him that he was misinforming the patients on the steps needed to rectify the issue and that I personally would prefer to handle it. He told me he did not like the way I was speaking to him and that when I returned to the office to talk to him immediately. Upon getting there he began to raise his voice at me threatening that he would discipline me with a two-week suspension for talking out of line to him. I told him ‘I quit,’ and that is when the third incident of him grabbing my ass happened.
I said ‘stop it’ and I opened the door to the clinic and left saying ‘I quit’ and that I no longer want to work there. I immediately turned in my company credit card, keys, and resignation while he returned to the patients and my co-workers were asking me what had happened. I never looked back and immediately blocked him from all platforms of contact and kept this to myself.
These incidents all happened within days.
I never reported him because I believed it was only happening to me— that it would be so hard to prove the truth in a ‘he said—she said’ scenario. Additionally, I was afraid of how this may affect the unrelated case involving a person close to me. In that case, I learned that the privacy of victims is never guaranteed.
Dr. Akoma (knew the circumstances of that case and) used it to prey on me. As a practitioner of medicine, Dr. Akoma’s sole duty is to not cause harm to his patients; but he has and will continue to do so with the power he currently has. After reading the stories of the other women I know that there are more of us out there. I am working on my complaint as we speak with Guam Police Department’s Domestic Assault Response Team and it is my hope that more people come forward.