Mistrial

A doctor who graduated from my residency program was recently charged with sexual assault on 3 of his patients.  Actually, I understand more women made allegations, but the trial here in town was brought by 3 women.  At one point it got pretty sensational, with a local news story about all the women he’d wronged – then the camera cut to a room of women all sitting around commiserating about how much of a punk the guy is.  I figured he was toast.

The trial began about 2 weeks ago, and was declared by the judge to be a mistrial today.  I guess this means the jury couldn’t agree on his guilt.  So, does a tie go to the runner, like in baseball?  If he hasn’t been proven guilty, then that makes him not-guilty, right?

I can’t decide what to think about this.  On one hand, people make allegations about doctors all the time, but charges aren’t often brought unless there is more evidence than just an allegation.  In this case, I remember the state licensing board saying that they were alerted because 3 women who have no connection to each other all complained within 1 week.  As much as I want to empathize with the doctor and say his actions were probably just misinterpreted, it’s hard to explain 3 women at the same time.  That’s a lot of strange physical exams.

I also don’t know what this means for him.  The prosecutor’s office hasn’t decided whether or not they’ll re-charge him.  If they don’t, does that mean he’s free?  Off the hook?  Will he get his suspended license back?  Will there be nothing on his record?

3 thoughts on “Mistrial

  1. one who knows

    Does a mistrial make him not guilty? Well, technically it would take a jury verdict of “not guilty” to render him not guilty. On the other hand, he has not actually been found guilty, so officially speaking he is probably neither, until the case can be resolved by a) dismissing the charges; or b) retrying the case and obtaining a jury verdict of guilty or not guilty. These are all legal concepts, of course, and do not speak at all to the issue of moral guilt.

    Criminal court and the medical practice board are separate proceedings.

    Even if the criminal charges are dismissed, he could still be on the hook if the medical practice board decides to conduct its own investigation and levy some sanctions, e.g. reprimand, suspension of medical license or revocation of license. If his license has already been suspended, I would say he’s in deep doo-doo, because most medical practice boards do not impose this kind of sanction lightly; I mean, we’re talking about someone’s reputation and livelihood here. But I can’t tell from your summary whether the medical practice board plans to take any further action. They may have suspended his license provisionally, pending the outcome of the criminal case. If he’d been convicted of criminal sexual misconduct, he could probably kiss his license goodbye; no state board would want to take on that kind of liability.

    I don’t know if it’s the same in every state, but in my state, criminal convictions must be reported to the medical practice board and they do show up on the record. (that’s actual *convictions*; it doesn’t apply to criminal charges that end up being dismissed.)

    BTW, mistrials can be declared for a variety of reasons, not solely because of a hung jury.

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  2. secretwave101

    Great questions and great points. Don’t know the details. Here’s some additional facts I’ve learned:

    -point about license is very good, the license is currently suspended not only because of the accusations but also because of flagrant medical mistakes

    -don’t know what the board intends to do yet, they may be waiting to see if he is prosecuted again

    -no word on why there was a mistrial, although I think it was a hung jury. Prosecutor weighing another trial. Doc is unable to leave town or practice medicine while everyone waits. His life is ruined either way. The accusation was a good as a guilty verdict.

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  3. one who knows

    You know, I’m always a little surprised when I hear about cases like this.

    Overall, the level of professionalism among doctors seems to be pretty high (notwithstanding the few flagrant cases that make the news, precisely because they’re so, well, flagrant).

    It just makes me wonder how this guy got through his training without setting off some warning signals along the way. Usually this type of behavior does not spring up out of nowhere.

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