Multiple rape charges not enough to stop doctor from practicing

More potential victims have been added to the criminal case against an Arkansas family doctor who is being allowed to keep seeing patients despite facing rape and sexual assault charges.

Robert B. Rook, a family doctor in Conway, Ark., faces nine counts of rape, 11 counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault. SPECIAL

Dr. Robert B. Rook previously faced three charges of rape and three charges of sexual assault of patients. He pleaded not guilty and is free on a $225,000 bond.

But last week prosecutors amended the charges, and the number of alleged victims increased from three to 13. Rook now faces nine counts of rape, 11 counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

That still won't affect his ability to keep his office doors open while the charges are pending, though. The Arkansas State Medical Board reinstated his suspended license in August when no victims appeared to testify at an administrative hearing.

"Still in the same spot," medical board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. "Don’t have witnesses."

A special prosecutor previously told the AJC that the women didn't testify because he didn't want them on a witness stand before a criminal trial. But O'Dwyer said Rook had a right to a hearing and a right to cross-examine his accusers.

"If I get a witness to testify, I'll have (another) hearing," O'Dwyer said.

The case against Rook, who practices in Conway just north of Little Rock, factored into a recent installment of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's nationwide series on doctors and sex abuse. The story highlighted cases of accused physicians allowed to keep their licenses, even after being booked on charges and with prosecutors ready to take them to trial.

You can read more about the AJC’s ongoing investigation by clicking here, and you can click here to read about Rook and other doctors allowed to practice after being arrested.

092516 docClosing door main image panel for part 3 of doctors project By Ric Watkins

According to a search warrant affidavit filed in Rook's case, one woman said he played with her bare breasts during a physical. Another said he cupped her breasts from behind and fondled her genitals during pelvic exams.

Another woman said the doctor once had her undress and sit on his lap, and he fondled her. In later encounters, they kissed and engaged in oral sex, the affidavit says.

The patient's mother accused Rook of fueling her daughter's Xanax abuse. The patient told investigators it was "just implied that she will get the medications once the sexual stuff is done," the affidavit says.

Under Arkansas law, forcible intercourse or deviate sexual activity is considered rape.

Before Rook had his license reinstated, special prosecutor Jason Barrett said he offered to give the medical board the victims’ statements from arrest affidavits and have law enforcement investigators testify at the hearing.

O’Dwyer, though, said that would have been worthless hearsay. The board did require Rook to use a chaperone while examining patients, something already considered a good practice.

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About the Author

Johnny Edwards
Johnny Edwards
Johnny Edwards is a member of the AJC’s investigative team, focusing on the private sector and state and federal regulation. He has worked at the newspaper...