How do your state officials handle cases of sexual complaints against doctors?

From Doctors & Sex Abuse, an AJC National Investigation

How does your home state handle cases of sexual misconduct by doctors? Each state has its own set of statutes and regulations on licensing doctors, accommodating patients who wish to file complaints, and releasing information about physicians who have been subject to discipline and legal action. On this page, we’re sharing a key fact about each state, with links to our detailed page for each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The state pages will continue to be updated and expanded as our coverage continues. 

About Doctors and Sex Abuse: #DoctorSexAbuse is an @ajc national investigation exposing a system that forgives sexually abusive doctors. To see the full report for your state, follow the links below, or use the Find Your State page on doctors.ajc.com.

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Alabama  Medical authorities in the state halt investigations when a doctor voluntarily surrenders his license, and afterward no findings of the investigation are entered in the record. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Alaska  On Aug. 19, Dr. Clifford Merchant faces a possible life sentence after reaching a plea deal in a sexual abuse case that involved four girls ages 5 to 12. He was jailed in 2015 in lieu of $10 million bail after an FBI informant testified that the doctor had attempted to arrange the murder of at least one of his victims, according to media reports. Ultimately, he agreed that he had attempted to hire a hit man but was not charged. He also paid each of the victims $25,000, but they are not prevented from suing him. He surrendered his license in 2014. Merchant contacted the AJC, but declined to comment on the case. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Arizona  According to a medical board summary, a doctor said he was under “undue financial expectations” from his wife, and despite “working harder and harder” to meet them, his efforts were “never properly acknowledged,” and that was one reason he had two patients perform oral sex on him. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Arkansas  “The thing I’m having the most trouble with is how seven women from different walks of life have come together and made these allegations against you.” — Arkansas State Medical Board member Dr. Jim Citty, as quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in the case of a doctor accused of fondling numerous patients. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

California 2002: San Mateo County honors Dr. William Ayres, head of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, with a lifetime achievement award for “his tireless effort to improve the lives of children and adolescents.” 2007: Ayres is arrested on 14 felony counts of child molestation. 2013: He is sentenced to eight years in prison. April 2016: He dies in prison. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Colorado  By law, Colorado’s medical board may not permanently revoke a doctor’s license. Revocations last for two years, after which doctors may continue to reapply. A doctor can agree to give up his license permanently, but it will be publicly listed as “relinquishment,” according to board program director Karen McGovern. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Connecticut 150 — Approximate number of plaintiffs in lawsuits against St. Francis Hospital in the case of Dr. George Reardon, according to the Hartford Courant. Reardon had already risen to chief of endocrinology at the hospital when, in the late 1980s, victims began coming forth with complaints, some dating back to the ’50s. Reardon retired in 1993 and died in 1998, but it was not until 2007 that the owner of the doctor’s old home discovered a hidden cache of child pornography — tens of thousands of photo slides and more than 100 film reels. Investigators were able to identify 250 victims from the images, though many more victims never came forward. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Delaware  “Beyond the feelings of betrayal, embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety readily associated with this sort of misconduct by a health care provider, Plaintiff feels anger and remorse because she did not physically retaliate when Defendant put his hand on her.” — Court document in a lawsuit against a doctor who had been convicted of rape and attempted rape of two female patients in a pain clinic. His license was revoked in 2001. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

District of Columbia While most states allow patients to file complaints against doctors online, in D.C. patients must mail in their complaint form. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Florida  “When (the patient) fully regained consciousness, she noticed that her skirt had been removed, her underpants were pulled down slightly on the left side, her bra was disheveled, and the top button of her jacket had been undone.” — Findings of fact from the Board of Medicine’s revocation of the license of a doctor who claimed that sex with a patient in his office was consensual. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Georgia  “Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don’t know.” — Dr. Donald Ray Taylor’s response when confronted by his hospital over accusations of sexual misconduct, according to court documents from a civil action. The state medical board monitored him for about eight years, and later found he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a patient and an employee. After a brief suspension, the board placed him on probation. His Georgia medical license is still active. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Hawaii  4 — The number of Hawaii doctors about whom the AJC review managed to find orders concerning sexual misconduct between 1999 and 2015, not counting reciprocal orders for actions taken by other states. The Aloha State only keeps disciplinary information on its website for five years, one of the most limited periods in the nation. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Idaho The state Supreme Court ordered the medical board to re-evaluate a doctor’s license revocation and scolded the board for using “heated rhetoric and denunciations” in its original complaint, such as its statement that the doctor’s conduct was “‘so corrupt and degenerate as to shock the conscience.’” “While it is true that (the doctor) conducted himself in a reprehensible manner, taking advantage of young men with troubled pasts, a tribunal does not give the impression of impartiality” with such language, the court said. The doctor’s license remains revoked. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Illinois   “The sexual assault, itself, was not medical care.” — Illinois Supreme Court in a 2011 ruling. A patient said a hospital negligently supervised a doctor who she said committed a deviant act against her. The court ruled that she sued too late, rejecting her argument that her case arose out of patient care, which allows for more time to sue. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Indiana  A doctor “induced” a patient into a sexual relationship that lasted about three years by telling her it was treatment for her emotional illness and would “help her with her self-esteem,” according to state board documents. Even though the patient was bipolar and had an IQ of 62, the doctor contended the relationship was consensual. He died in 2015. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Iowa Prosecutors in 2013 had asked for a longer prison sentence than the eight years Dr. David V. Gierlus got for a drugs-for-sex scheme. The doctor used vibrators and sex tools during appointments and targeted women with troubled pasts, including women who had suffered sexual abuse as children, the judge said in passing sentence. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Kansas “The Presiding Officer also considers that (the) alleged misconduct has only been with female patients...” — The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, in a decision to lift the emergency suspension of a licensee, allowing him to treat male patients. A few days later, it modified its order, saying he could treat female patients if a nurse chaperone was present. Among the complaints against the doctor: A patient said he asked her to disrobe completely with no gown, touched her pubic hair and said “nice,” asked if she used sex toys, and told her how long it had been since he had had sex with his wife. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Kentucky  February 2013: Dr. Ghias Arar, a neurologist, is arrested and charged with a felony after a patient says he ripped off her bra, began kissing her breasts and masturbating, rubbed her vaginal area then ejaculated on her clothing. Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure issues an emergency order restricting Arar’s practice to male patients. March 2013: Board amends order to further restrict Arar after more women, including a non-patient who accompanied one of his patients, file complaints. February 2014: DNA on the first woman’s clothes is matched to the doctor. April 2015: Arar is found guilty of two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse and six misdemeanor counts of second-degree sexual abuse. June 2015: Arar is sentenced to three years in prison.  HIs license is suspended. September 2015: The medical board revokes his license. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Louisiana  “It’s a dark day for the people of Louisiana.” — Dr. Robert Marier, former executive director of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, about passage in 2015 of a bill setting limits on the board’s investigations. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Maine In a 2015 order, the state medical board said that a doctor who had wanted to self-report a sexual relationship with a patient “was advised not to do so by a prior attorney, two counselors, and another physician.” The doctor was placed on five years’ probation. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Maryland  “(The doctor’s) ingrained pattern of self-gratification at the expense of his patients, incompetent practice, and deceit and corruption makes it appear unlikely that he was ever fit to practice medicine.” — An administrative law judge, commenting on the case of Dr. Ramon L. Gonzalez, who the board determined sexually abused female patients, including adolescents, since his time in medical school. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Massachusett Q: “Will the physician know I filed a complaint?” A: “Yes, the physician will know you are the complainant.” (From “A Consumers Guide to the Complaint Process,” a brochure produced by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.) Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Michigan  “The entire time she was shaking and had tears running down her face, crying. You could see the embarrassment built up inside her, the shame, and the humility of having to deal with this situation and keep it hidden from people.” — A police officer reporting on his interview of a woman whose doctor was accused of sexually abusing patients. The medical board put him on probation for a minimum of one day and a maximum of one year, saying evidence suggested his intent was innocent. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Minnesota  The state board will not commence proceedings on any medical practice complaint if seven years have elapsed since the alleged act, except in the case of sexual misconduct complaints, on which there is no statute of limitations. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Mississippi  “Let me say that it takes a lot of money to educate a physician. If they can be safely monitored and rehabilitated, I don’t see why they can’t come back from drugs, alcohol or sexual misconduct.” — Dr. H. Vann Craig, former executive director, Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

 Missouri  During a consultation with a woman who had suffered injuries as the result of a sexual assault, urologist Milton Eichmann asked her if she was submissive during sex, liked to be urinated on or tied up, and if she’d ever had sex with more than one person at a time. He was twice placed on probation for a total of eight years before he retired. In an interview with the Journal-Constitution, Eichmann said he was sorry, “as a physician and as a Christian,” for the comments he made to the patient and that he benefited from mandated evaluation and treatment. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Montana  Dr. Donald Eugene Russell was arrested on charges he molested three children, but was allowed to continue his practice as long as he was supervised while treating minors. Then he was accused of having sex with an elderly patient suffering from dementia. A state investigator found that Russell had reported an STD to the county health department and listed the dementia patient among his sexual contacts. His license was suspended, then revoked. He was convicted in 2004 on three counts of sexual assault against a minor. “I can say that in my experience with dealing with the legal system, I perceive that there are more than one side to every story,” Russell told the Journal-Constitution in a phone interview, “and the legal system is of course dedicated to painting as bad, as malicious a picture as possible for conviction.” Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Nebraska  An oncologist tried to manipulate a patient into continuing a sexual relationship, according to board orders. He gave her a false diagnosis of a fatal disease, told her she would lose her coverage if she sought treatment from someone else, even impersonated another doctor to cancel lab tests that might have shown his diagnosis was false. His license was revoked. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Nevada   The wife of Las Vegas doctor Binh Minh Chung found several videos of him having sex with a woman and an underage girl in his office, leading to an investigation and indictment on multiple counts, including charges that he drugged victims before raping them, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The newspaper also found that he had been arrested nine years earlier and accused of open and gross lewdness with a minor patient, but the police case was sealed after he completed community service, and the state medical board issued only a “letter of concern” that was supposed to be a nonpublic reprimand. Criminal charges are pending. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

New Hampshire  “The patient shall be free from emotional, psychological, sexual and physical abuse and from exploitation, neglect, corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion.” — From the Patients’ Bill of Rights. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

New Jersey  Troubled by her doctor’s actions at an earlier exam for a wrist problem, a patient videotaped her follow-up appointment. That video showed the doctor repeatedly molesting her and engaging in voyeurism, the medical board found. Against that evidence, the doctor had 31 letters of support from patients, and a fellow doctor spoke of his charitable work. The board temporarily suspended his license earlier this year. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

New Mexico  78 — The number of inmates at state correctional facilities who claimed they were abused by one doctor under the guise of performing prostate exams. Nurses were among those who told the medical board of concerns, saying the doctor seemed to single out inmates in their 20s and 30s. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

New York  “A patient cannot give meaningful consent to sexual contact due to the position of trust and disparity of power in the physician-patient relationship.” Department of Health policy statement on physician sexual misconduct. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

North Carolina   “Because of the control exercised by the Medical Society, the Medical Board has repeatedly failed to fulfill its duty to identify, investigate and prosecute physicians who endanger North Carolina patients — Allegation in a 2007 lawsuit brought by a physician and three patients claiming that the North Carolina Medical Society had absolute power over the selection of physicians to the state board. They dropped the suit after a new state law changed the selection process. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

North Dakota  Board-issued public disciplinary documents on the state’s website date back only to 2012, the year the website was overhauled. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Ohio Identical twins Mark and Scott Blankenburg were pediatricians accused of having sex with underage males, including at least four patients. Mark Blankenburg was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 21 to 27 years in prison. Scott Blankenburg pleaded guilty in 2010 to eight felony counts and was sentenced to 13 years. Mark Blankenburg’s license was revoked and Scott Blankenburg surrendered his. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Oklahoma  1986: The state medical board suspends Dr. Juan Lases’ license because of sexual misconduct with two minor patients. 1988: The board allows him to return to practice on probation. 1991: All probation terms are lifted. August 2010: A patient tells police she caught Lases masturbating as he touched her buttocks. September 2010: Lases signs agreement not to practice medicine. November 2010: The patient sues him for negligence. 2012: Lases pleads no contest to charges of sexual battery and indecent exposure and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors say he admitted he had masturbated in public more than 100 times. 2013: He surrenders his medical license. (Source: The Oklahoman) Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Oregon  “I decided that the risk/benefit ratio was such that this is something I would do.” — A psychiatrist, explaining his decision to have a sexual relationship with a patient. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Pennsylvania  Police said Dr. Jay J. Cho over-prescribed addictive medications to women and, once they were hooked, threatened to cut them off unless they had sex with him. Cho had a bedroom in his office where some victims said they were assaulted. He died in 2015 as he was awaiting trial. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Rhode Island  After doctors complained that the state board is too zealous, a special state House commission was created in 2015 to study its practices. A report released this year recommends, among other things: limiting the board’s subpoena powers; placing deadlines on complaint proceedings; taking license revocation off the table in negotiations with doctors; and ensuring that doctors are reviewed by at least one peer within their specialty. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

 South Carolina  In a lawsuit, a man whose son was molested by Dr. Robert Francis Marion Jr. said that a psychiatrist who learned of the crimes from a victim failed to report it. Instead, the lawsuit said, the psychiatrist attempted to treat Marion. An appeals court in 2004 rejected the lawsuit, agreeing with the trial court that the psychiatrist did not have a common law duty to warn “because there was no specific threat to a specific individual.” By this time Marion already had begun serving a 20-year prison sentence. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

South Dakota  In 2003, the Montana state board, having learned that Dr. Marden Lee Brown had voluntarily surrendered his license in South Dakota, sought to find out the underlying reasons, as the doctor also was licensed in Montana. South Dakota wouldn’t tell, and Brown didn’t respond to Montana’s inquiries. The board eventually found out on its own that Brown had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual contact with a child. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Tennessee  Zero —  The number of times Dr. Michael Roy Sharpe was reported to the Tennessee state board, despite his being accused of sexual misconduct in two of the three hospitals that fired him. Sharpe then took up practice in Alabama, where he was accused of raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old patient and making a 16-year-old disrobe and dance naked during an exam. The pediatrician surrendered his Alabama license, but Alabama’s board order has no information on the accusations. Sharpe later was convicted of possessing a cell phone with images of child pornography and in 2010 was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Texas  “There is a need for additional physicians to practice in the area of occupational medicine in the San Marcos, Hays County, Texas area.” — The Texas Medical Board, in its 2000 order reinstating the license of Dr. Arthur Nilon Tallant, who had pleaded guilty to 19 counts of sexual performance by a child, involving his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female patient. Tallant died in 2013. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Utah  The state in 2016 re-licensed a doctor who is a registered sex offender, having been convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in 2012. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Vermont “He was my lover, my psychiatrist, my therapist, my every source of human contact... . I was alone in agony, totally isolated... . He realized how vulnerable ... I was and he played that card ... for all it was worth.” — impact statement by a patient of Dr. Peter McKenna in a malpractice insurance dispute. The patient was bipolar and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia. McKenna admitted that he had sex with the woman in 2003, and was arrested on a charge of sexual act with a vulnerable adult. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, according to a news report. The case was dismissed in 2006 after McKenna died. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Virginia  Sept. 9, 2002: A Staunton doctor has sex with a pregnant patient in his car. Sept. 16, 2002: The doctor is arrested for sexual penetration by force, threat or intimidation. April 2003: The doctor takes a plea deal contingent on meeting probationary terms and surrenders his license for six months. June 2003: Disclosing that the doctor had prior sexual contacts with two other patients, the board orders his license suspended for at least 15 months. 2005: Board committee reinstates him on probation after he completes ethics courses and undergoes therapy, agreeing that he is sincerely remorseful. August 2008: All restrictions on his license are cleared. October 2008: He prescribes a high dosage of a narcotic to a patient already on pain medication without performing a complete physical exam. The patient dies. 2011: The board suspends the doctor’s license, saying that he had prescribed addictive medicines to five other patients without adequate exams or monitoring. 2014: His petition for reinstatement is denied. (Source: Virginia Board of Medicine). Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Washington (state)  The state’s criminal code has special categories of second-degree rape and indecent liberties for violators who are health care providers. If sexual intercourse occurs between a doctor and patient during a treatment session, consultation, interview or exam, the doctor is guilty of rape in the second degree, though the doctor may argue that the patient consented, knowing the sexual act was not for treatment. A doctor is guilty of indecent liberties when there is other sexual contact with a patient and it occurs during treatment, consultation, interview or exams. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

West Virginia  A doctor was arrested in 2013 for sexually motivated battery, accused of sticking his tongue into a patient’s mouth. The patient, who reportedly suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, bit off part of the doctor’s tongue. The doctor’s conviction for sexually motivated battery was later vacated when the state Supreme Court ruled he wasn’t provided pretrial notice that the court could find the offense was sexually motivated. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Wisconsin  State law says that sexual conduct between a physician and patient is prohibited, and the prohibition extends to two years after the doctor has quit treating a patient. For children, the ban goes until two years after the patient reaches the age of majority. The state also makes clear that it is always prohibited for a doctor to have sexual contact with a person who lacks the ability to consent for any reason, including medication or psychological or cognitive disability. Read more on doctors.ajc.com

Wyoming  Both the authorization for release of medical records and the signature of the complainant must be notarized before a complaint will be reviewed, the Wyoming Board of Medicine stipulates on its website. “Board rules require a written complaint naming the physician, the patient and a detailed narrative describing what happened and when,” the board states, and also must “include the complainant’s address and telephone number.” It goes on to say: “The Board believes that involvement of the non-physician members of the Board is critically important and therefore, the President and the Secretary generally appoint both a physician and non-physician as interviewers.” Read more on doctors.ajc.com

From Doctors & Sex Abuse, an AJC National Investigation

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