Doctor Arrested or Charged with Sex Abuse or Sexual Misconduct?
Do NOT Do This
The law and the practicalities are stacked against a physician or other doctor, e.g. psychotherapist, charged with misconduct or sexual abuse of a patient. Forget the presumption of innocence. Sure any defendant is technically presumed innocent but a doctor’s name is held out for the world to scorn while the courts and press keep the accuser's name a secret, regardless of credibility, history, and/or stability.
A doctor unjustly accused of sex abuse or sexual misconduct is rightly outraged but must be smart to minimize the damage to their reputation, practice, and income. The biggest way doctors get into trouble in these cases is by outsmarting themselves. Too often they assume they can do their own legal research online, figure it all out, and explain it away. Unfortunately it can’t work that way. They’re convicted in the court of public opinion when the first Doctor Arrested story breaks in the media.
An unjustly accused physician should NOT do THIS:
Talk to Police – When an officer is knocking at the door to ask questions, they are not doing it out of idle curiosity. They are there to make a case and if you think you are going to talk your way out of it, you are kidding yourself. Every word can be used against you and you don’t know the significance your words might have because you do not know what the officer knows or thinks he knows.
The unfairly suspected doctor SHOULD do THIS:
Let Your Lawyer Speak for You – If your lawyer speaks on your behalf, his statements cannot be attributed to you whereas your own statements can put you in prison for life.
A doctor accused of sexual misconduct should NOT do THIS:
Alter Medical Records – Too often a healthcare provider will alter medical records in some seemingly innocuous way to eliminate something that might be perceived as suggesting some measure of guilt. Great investigators will likely uncover the alteration, in spite of your best efforts to mask the change. Just the act of changing a record can convince the authorities or a jury of your guilt.
Talk to Staff About the Accusation – Similar to the medical record alteration mistake is speaking to your staff about how they might, or should, characterize the patient or the alleged incident(s). One area of police inquiry will be any conversations you might have had with staff members and any inference that you might have engaged in coaching can be quite damning regardless of its innocent nature.
Reach Out to the Accuser – While your first instinct might be to speak with the accuser or her family to understand the accusation and possibly reach some sort of accommodation, absolutely nothing good can happen here and the potential for unsalvageable damage to your situation is immense. Regardless of innocence, the accused doctor opens the door to possible additional claims with the effort. “He’s stalking me” or “He tried to pay me off” or “He threatened me” claims can be damning to your situation, even if your intent was good and your actions honorable. You were there (or you called) and it will earn more trouble. The same applies if someone, other than a lawyer, reaches out on your behalf.
Conduct Your Own Investigation – There are many reasons not to do this but one too often missed is that the results of your investigation, including private investigators' reports, office staff memos and other memorializations are documents that can be subpoenaed by police or licensing boards. Your attorney will have investigators and their work for the attorney is considered confidential and near-always not reachable by the authorities for any reason.
You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer early on who understands the complex set of moving parts when a doctor is arrested or just accused and can work with you to build a proactive defense. We understand the hardest thing for a physician to do is relinquish control of his own case but a doctor can simply not successfully defend himself; the deck is stacked against you.
Contact a Pattis Law Firm criminal defense lawyer right away to preserve your rights and reputation: