An Orange County court Thursday prohibited an Anaheim physician from practicing medicine until a hearing is held on charges that he sexually molested three female patients under the guise of medical examination.
The patients, recruits from the Orange County Sheriff's Department Academy, alleged Thursday in a lawsuit that they were molested by Dr. Alfred W. Chao of Alhambra, who works out of an Anaheim clinic.
Superior Court Commissioner Jane D. Myers signed a temporary restraining order blocking Chao's practice until a hearing Dec. 8. The order was requested by the state Board of Medical Quality Assurance.
Chao's license was revoked by the board in 1979 after he was charged with MediCal and insurance fraud and dispensing dangerous drugs without good reason, according to a police report attached to the lawsuit. The license was restored in 1984 on the condition that Chao remain on probation for three years.
Complained of Leg Injuries
All three women came to Chao complaining of leg injuries. Each was alone when examined by Chao, according to the lawsuit.
Each claimed that Chao fondled her breasts. In addition, one of the women alleged that Chao "repeatedly" fondled her near the groin, the lawsuit alleged.
"There is perhaps nothing as morally reprehensible as sexual abuse and misconduct committed by someone supposedly occupying a position of trust," the board stated. "And who in this society is considered more trustworthy by the public than a physician?"
Chao's lawyer argued Thursday that the unproven allegations are not acts that sufficiently endanger the public health, safety or welfare to justify license revocation.
"The heart and lungs are legitimate subjects of a physician's physical examination," according to written arguments filed by the lawyer, Theodora Poloynis-Engen. The attorney asserted that prevailing standards of medical practice did not require Chao to obtain the patients' permission before conducting the exam at the breast, nor was a nurse required to be present.
Unprofessional Conduct Denied
In a sworn statement submitted to Myers, Chao claimed he has abided by the terms of his probation and denied he had engaged in any unprofessional conduct.
"I deny having touched any patient in a sexual manner," Chao said in the written statement. "Any touching which occurred was brief, minimal and only done for the purpose of the examination which was being conducted."
In a police report attached to the lawsuit, Chao's home is listed as in Alhambra. The alleged acts of sexual abuse are said in the suit to have occurred at the Industrial Medical Clinic, 1740 W. Medical Center Drive in Anaheim.
The lawsuit also asserts that Chao violated his probation by secretly working for the clinic without prior approval of the state.
The 1984 restoration of Chao's license was on the condition that he practice only under the supervision of state officials. "By working secretly, (Chao) intentionally and effectively placed himself outside of any supervision or control," state officials alleged.