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Former doctor from Madison sued for overdose death

Sammy Fuad Becdach

A cancer doctor from Madison whose license was revoked last year is now a defendant in a lawsuit alleging he prescribed narcotics for a young woman to push her into a sexual relationship, and the resulting addiction led to her death.

Sammy Fuad Becdach, 56, who was practicing oncology and hematology with Clearview Cancer Institute on 14th Avenue Southeast in Decatur, had his license suspended in June and revoked Dec. 31 after a 21-year-old female patient he was having sexual relations with died of a drug overdose on Dec. 18, 2020, according to an administrative complaint by the Board of Medical Examiners.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Madison County last month by Kimberly Shea Goldstein, the mother of decedent Katelyn Nicole Whitworth. The lawsuit names both Becdach, a Madison resident, and Walgreen Co. as defendants. According to the complaint, Whitworth filled the prescriptions she received from Becdach at Walgreens pharmacies in Decatur, Birmingham and Huntsville.

Neither Bechdach nor Walgreens has responded to the complaint, and their attorneys have not made an appearance in the case.

According to the complaint, Whitworth had been molested by her biological father as a child and he remains in prison after being convicted of the offense. That history caused her to suffer from mental health conditions and to be prescribed benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Valium and Xanax.

Also because of the history of molestation, according to the complaint, “Whitworth was at an increased risk for adverse mental health conditions, drug and alcohol use and abuse, addiction and dependency.”

Whitworth and Becdach first met in early 2017 at Ruth’s Chris restaurant in Birmingham where she worked as a waitress and he was a customer, according to the complaint. She was 18 years old and he was 49 or 50, the complaint alleges. After that first meeting they began exchanging texts and phone calls. According to the complaint, Becdach told Whitworth he was not married, despite having a wife and two children.

Beginning in the fall of 2017 and continuing until a week before her death, the complaint claims, Becdach provided Whitworth with cash, a credit card, jewelry, a car and took her on several expensive trips. Also during this time, he provided controlled substances to her — “which at times were forced upon her without her consent” — in exchange for sex or to facilitate rape, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that during his visits with Whitworth, “Becdach carried with him at all times a bag or briefcase that he filled with controlled substances, including opioids and benzodiazepines in both pill and liquid form, so that he could immediately, and illegally, provide and/or force such controlled substances upon Whitworth … .”

In early 2018, Becdach rented Whitworth an apartment in Huntsville, and in November 2018 he took her to Clearview Cancer Institute after business hours “to establish a sham physician-patient relationship with Whitworth” so he could more easily prescribe drugs for her, the complaint alleges.

In the next seven months, according to the lawsuit, Becdach prescribed her at least 200 opioid pills and 250 benzodiazepine pills.

The complaint alleges Walgreens’ pharmacists missed numerous “red flags” that should have alerted them that Becdach’s prescriptions for Whitworth were inappropriate, and that by doing so Walgreens also contributed to Whitworth’s death.

A friend of the victim told authorities that the victim told her that in October or November of 2020, she “woke up from a nap to (Becdach) ‘dripping down’ liquid Oxycodone or OxyContin” into the victim’s mouth, according to the administrative complaint for license suspension filed by the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners in June. The friend said she doesn’t believe the victim was addicted to opioids before meeting Becdach.

According to a report by the Pelham Police Department, Whitworth’s body was discovered in her bed with a tan powdery substance and a makeshift snort straw on Dec. 18, 2020. The autopsy report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences said the victim died of the toxic effects of fentanyl and morphine.

Pelham police filed no charges against Becdach, but notified the Board of Medical Examiners that “they had reason to believe (Becdach) had violated his professional boundaries.”

The Board of Medical Examiners’ complaint also alleges that several of Becdach’s sexual encounters with Whitworth were videotaped, and that Pelham police obtained them from a cellphone. The videotapes were recorded on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, 2020, a week before Whitworth’s overdose death. According to that complaint, Becdach admitted to his sexual relationship with Whitworth and to prescribing her medications.

Becdach’s wife of 30 years filed for divorce in August 2019, alleging his infidelity, and according to court documents the wife’s lawyers subpoenaed Whitworth for a deposition on Jan. 28, 2020. The divorce was finalized in early 2020, but in August of last year Becdach’s ex-wife filed a motion for contempt alleging he had failed to pay the $19,000 per month in alimony he owed and that his total delinquency came to $396,000.

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