January 3, 2010
The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed and remanded an order of professional discipline imposed by the Iowa Board of Medicine, concluding that the defense of laches had been established. The alleged incident of sexual abuse of a minor patient occurred in 1973. The complaint was received in 1998. An initial investigation found that "nothing inappropriate" had happened. The doctor was not notified of the complaint until 2004. Charges were filed in April 2006. The board imposed a $10,000 fine, five years probation and ordered that the doctor see minor patients only with a chaperone. On review, the district court had found the delay was "not ideal" but nonetheless affirmed the board's discipline.
The court here found that the delay was both unreasonable and that the doctor was prejudiced as a result. He had destroyed his records and the records of the alleged victim's therapist also were no longer available. Further, the alleged victim's father had died and mother could not testify due to her health. The mother's deposition was admitted, which deprived the accused of the ability to cross-examine her.
The remand order directs that the charges be dismissed by the district court. (Mike Frisch)
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