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Woman convicted for posing as a doctor faces multiple civil lawsuits
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Woman convicted for posing as a doctor faces multiple civil lawsuits

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A woman, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for treating patients while pretending to be a psychologist in Stafford County, is facing multiple civil lawsuits seeking many millions of dollars, court records show.

Sharonda L. Avery, 44, treated more than 100 patients while posing as a doctor at the former Pediatric Partners for Attention and Learning in Stafford. She was sentenced in October to 46 years in prison with all but 11 years suspended after being convicted of nine criminal offenses.

The victims of those offenses, or their parents, have filed four civil lawsuits in Stafford Circuit Court seeking damages ranging from just over $1 million to about $252 million. Joni Johnson, a doctor who headed the practice where Avery worked for about three years, and Aetna Health Insurance Co. are among the co-defendants listed in the lawsuits.

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The lawsuits allege that numerous patients, most of them children, suffered as the result of faulty diagnoses and medications that were prescribed for conditions that didn’t exist. The plaintiffs wrote that they were led to believe Avery was a doctor with several doctorates when in fact she didn’t even have a college degree.

The lawsuits claim Johnson is liable for hiring Avery without verifying her credentials. Even after Avery was fired in 2017 as the result of her poor performance, one of the lawsuits states, Johnson never warned her patients there might be problems with their diagnoses and medications.

The insurance company is also cited for not verifying Avery’s credentials before approving medications she prescribed.

Numerous plaintiffs are listed in court records. Only one of the four lawsuits had a trial date set as of Monday. That one is scheduled for four days starting June 29 and involves six plaintiffs. More than $2 million is being sought in that case.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

kepps@freelancestar.com

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