License suspension sought

first_imgU.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer called Friday on the state’s Osteopathic Medical Board to immediately suspend the license of Dr. Laurence Reich, a gynecologist who has been allowed to practice medicine despite his 2002 conviction for sexually exploiting patients. In a letter to Linda Bergmann, the board’s executive director, Boxer said Reich has “a clear pattern of violating the public trust that has been placed in him,” and that his osteopathic medical license should be suspended immediately to protect the public. The Daily News reported in October that Reich was accused of sexually exploiting two patients, Yvette Chambers and Shea Elder, in 2000. He pleaded no contest to one count of sexual exploitation in December 2002, part of a plea bargain designed to expedite the state board’s disciplinary process. Scheduling backlogs and rejected plea bargains have delayed that process, and a hearing to determine the fate of his license is now scheduled for February. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “Six years, it’s just not justice to these people,” said Boxer, D-Calif. “It’s an issue of right and wrong. It’s an issue of outrageous behavior by a physician. It’s wrong for a doctor to abuse his position of trust with very vulnerable people.” Neither Reich nor his attorney, Rickard Santwier, returned phone messages. According to court records, Elder and Chambers had accused Reich of inappropriate sexual contact during visits to his Van Nuys clinic in 1999 and 2000. While the case has meandered through the state disciplinary process, Reich has been allowed to continue to see patients. Elder and Chambers both expressed relief that Boxer had raised the issue and optimism that pressure from Boxer would speed up the system. “This is the best news,” Chambers said. “The right thing is being done, finally. (Suspending or revoking Reich’s license) would be a fantastic outcome from all the pain and suffering people have gone through, including Shea and myself. That would be fantastic.” Officials from the Osteopathic Medical Board said they address disciplinary cases as quickly as possible, but that settlement discussions between the defendant and the Attorney General’s Office can delay a case for years. The board rejected two settlements in Reich’s case. “We cannot evaluate an accusation until it’s presented to us,” said Dr. Michael Feinstein, the board’s president. The board’s attorney instructed all board members not to comment on Boxer’s letter, Feinstein said. Boxer’s letter focused on Reich’s case, but she sent copies of the letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuez and state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who could seek state legislation to change the system for disciplining medical and osteopathic doctors. “I’m focusing on this case, but I think through this case, reforms will come,” Boxer said. Josh Kleinbaum, (818) 713-3669 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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