The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has just published a great investigative series, Doctors & Sex Abuse.
The lead article, “License to Betray“, appeared July 8.
Here’s the newspaper’s description of how the project got started.
As is often the case with investigative reporting, this series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution grew out of other work. Reporter Danny Robbins was examining orders by the Georgia Composite Medical Board for his 2015 stories on prison medical care. In doing so, he saw orders allowing doctors to continue practicing after a finding that they had sexually violated patients.
He compiled those orders, discovering about 70 cases clearly involving sexual misconduct. And in about two-thirds of those cases, he was shocked to find, doctors either didn’t lose their licenses or were reinstated after being sanctioned. That included doctors who had repeatedly crossed the line with patients.
To see if Georgia was an exception, the AJC hired a legal researcher to study laws governing medical practices in every state, as reporters gathered studies and looked for cases around the country, compiled from news reports and other public sources. That work raised questions about the pervasiveness of doctor sexual misconduct. The research, and periodic scrutiny from other news organizations, also suggested that doctors were treated differently from other sexual offenders.
The series is a real eye-opener.
The state-by-state guide cites a single case in Hawaii. Robert McCormick Browne was a psychiatrist at Kamehameha Schools who is accused of molesting dozens of boys between 1947 and 1985. He committed suicide 25 years ago when the allegations became public.
The newspaper notes one “key fact” about Hawaii’s disciplinary system.
The state only keeps disciplinary information on its website for five years, one of the most limited periods in the nation.
Just another area in which Hawaii shortchanges the public when it comes to information access.