Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Woman Diagnosed with ‘Ghetto Booty’ Files Complaint

Was his diagnosis of “ghetto booty” playful bedside manner as Dr. Timothy Sweo contends, or demeaning as Terry Ragland, 55, of Jackson, Tenn., contends? The Tennessee Department of health will have to decide, since Ragland has filed a formal complaint regarding the incident.

Ragland had been to the medical practice in question before, but had never seen this particular doctor. She complained of back pain and the doctor, Timothy Sweo, ordered several X-rays of Raglands’ back. After examining the X-rays, Sweo concluded that Ragland had lumbar lordosis, specifically a curvature of the lower spine that causes one’s butt to protrude. That, however, is not what he told Ragland: He seems to have told her that she has “ghetto booty.”

Ragland was so shocked she later told reporters, “I think I blacked out after he said ‘ghetto booty.’ I think my mind was just stuck on the phrase because I couldn’t believe he said that.” Before leaving she complained to the office manager, who apologized, and within a few weeks Ragland got a letter of apology from Sweo that only made matters worse. In the letter he explained his alleged choice of words, “I was trying to take technical conversation regarding your lower back and make it less technical.”

Ragland found his admission of having dumbed down the diagnosis for her as offensive as the original comment, if not more so: “It’s not endearing. It’s not loving. It’s not a compliment. It’s wrong in every aspect and it’s very demeaning.”

Sweo, still scratching his head over the hubbub, told, “I think I do understand why her feelings were hurt, but I don’t understand what’s offensive about it.”

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