The female victim of an alleged sexual assault is suing a prominent local defense attorney and a health care provider over claims that they illegally transmitted and used her private medical information.
The 19-year-old woman filed the lawsuit against lawyer Ilan Funke-Bilu and the Center for Health and Prevention, a division of the local nonprofit CAPSLO, June 16, claiming that the use of her medical records, which included sensitive information about her sexual health, violated her privacy and California's medical information confidentiality laws.
"[The] plaintiff's constitutional right of privacy was intentionally and recklessly violated and breached in this case, causing her harm and damage," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Funke-Bilu was the attorney defending the woman's alleged attacker, Chad Preston Oliveira, when he subpoenaed the Center for Health and Prevention for the medical information without her consent or authorization. In response, the center sent Funke-Bilu a 45-page fax containing the woman's confidential health records. The suit claims that the transmittal of the information violated both the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, as well as the state's victim's right law, also called Marcy's Law, which grants crime victims the right to prevent disclosure of confidential information or records to criminal defendants to prevent them from harassing victims or their families.
The woman didn't find out that her records had been obtained until a June 21, 2016, trial setting in Oliveira's criminal case, according to the lawsuit. While prosecutors eventually moved to have a SLO County judge quash the subpoena, the records had already been transmitted to Funke-Bilu, and the "cat was out of the bag," the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit, filed by local attorney M. Robert Bettencourt, chastised Funke-Bilu, claiming that the experienced attorney should have known better and that he obtained the records in order to "intimidate, embarrass, and humiliate" the alleged victim.
Speaking to New Times, Funke-Bilu stood by his work on the case.
"I'm being sued for fighting for my client's rights," he said. "I'm proud of what I did."
Funke-Bilu also indicated that the lawsuit might be the result of an old grudge against him by Bettencourt. He pointed to an October 2014 ruling by a judge that Bettencourt failed to effectively represent a client in another criminal case. According to the court's ruling, Funke-Bilu discovered a problem with the case after reviewing it in connection with additional criminal charges against the same defendant.
"I believe this is payback from 2014, when the court found him incompetent," Funke-Bilu said.
Bettencourt did not respond to requests for comment from New Times.