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Sex Misconduct by Doctor Alleged : Complaint: Medical Board says physician fondled and later had sex with patient. It seeks to revoke license to practice.

March 16, 1994|JODI WILGOREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The California Medical Board has moved to revoke the license of a doctor, one of the first in Orange County to treat AIDS patients, for alleged sexual misconduct and gross negligence involving a patient.

In a complaint, the board accuses Newport Beach physician Charles A. Robertson of sexually assaulting a patient in his office, then having sex with him later in a motel. The board also charges Robertson with failing to conduct a complete medical examination before prescribing drugs over the telephone to the same patient.

"It should never happen. It's completely inappropriate," Deputy Atty. Gen. Sherry Ledakis, who will prosecute the case, said of the purported sexual misconduct. "He's taking advantage of a fiduciary relationship with someone in a position of less power. He's just taking advantage of a vulnerable person."

James Morgan, the Newport Beach attorney who will represent Robertson when the matter is heard before an administrative judge, said Tuesday the allegations are false.

"He expects to be totally and fully exonerated when we have a full hearing on the merits," Morgan said. "Dr. Robertson is familiar with the facts and, of course, he just obviously denies the allegations."

Robertson, 42, who lives on Lido Isle, declined to comment, Morgan said.

The doctor has 30 days to reply to the formal accusation. Once his response is filed, a hearing will be scheduled, and an administrative judge will decide whether to revoke his license. In the meantime, Robertson is allowed to practice medicine as usual, Ledakis said.

According to the board's complaint, the sexual misconduct began during an office visit in December, 1989, when Robertson allegedly fondled the patient's genitalia, then pinned the patient down on the examination table and masturbated.

The complaint said the doctor told the patient: "I have only had six or seven indiscretions like this during my entire career."

Soon afterward, the patient, who wasn't identified in the complaint, threatened to report Robertson to the American Medical Assn., and asked Robertson to take an AIDS test and to refrain from examining patients for one year, the complaint said.

"Later that day (Robertson and the patient) drove to a motel where they engaged in sexual relations," according to the complaint, which added that the patient "cried following this encounter, became quite depressed and attempted suicide."

After graduating from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 1978, Robertson became a licensed California doctor in 1979. He is well-known in the local medical community for treating people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes it.

Last year, the Medical Board disciplined 18 physicians for sexual misconduct, which it considers among its most serious offenses, spokeswoman Candis Cohen said.

"We see cases dealing with negligence and incompetence, but sexual misconduct is worse because it is willful, it could be prevented," Cohen said. "It involves such a violation of trust that goes to the heart of the doctor-patient relationship. It's illegal and unethical. The Medical Board takes these complaints very seriously."

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