Elizabeth L. Parker, Esq.
STATE DROPS LEWD CHARGES AGAINST GYNECOLOGIST The Palm Beach Post by Alan Gomez
Back in August, prosecutors charged a Loxahatchee gynecologist who they believed had improperly touched one of his patients. The patient was a 26-year nurse who works in the psychiatric unit at Columbia Hospital, so her testimony was especially credible, prosecutors thought. But on Thursday, the state attorney's office dropped the case against Dr. Raul Valdescruz after they realized the patient had repeatedly lied to them about her background. During a deposition this week, the woman admitted she had an extensive history of mental illness and was currently taking an antidepressant and another drug that combats the symptoms of schizophrenia. She also admitted that she had lied on her job application to Columbia when asked if she had any mental illness history, telling the hospital that she hadn't. Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Parker said she had asked the woman about her mental history several times, even asking about the specific drugs she was taking. And each time, Parker said, the woman lied to her. "I'm not saying the crime didn't happen, just that the state cannot prove the crime occurred with this person as the essential witness," Parker said. Valdescruz's attorney, however, calls Parker's decision a complete vindication for his client, who works at Palms West OB/GYN Associates and is married with two children. Parker wrote out a three-page explanation why she dropped the case, a rarity for prosecutors. "It's been extremely difficult for him. It's embarrassing," said attorney Scott Suskauer. "Especially for a man who dedicates his life to help other people." The charges stemmed from a routine examination in February, when the woman told police that Valdescruz stimulated her, causing her mental and emotional difficulties. Valdescruz was arrested four months later and charged with simple battery and committing a lewd and lascivious act on a female patient. But because the woman claimed mental and emotional anguish, her mental health history would have been a significant factor in the case, Parker said. And because she lied about it, she was no longer a reliable witness before a judge or jury. Parker said charges of perjury would not be considered against the woman because even though she initially lied about her mental health history, she recanted and told the truth in the same deposition.
Elizabeth L. Parker, Esq. Officials at Columbia said they were not aware of the nurse's situation when questioned Thursday, and later said they do not discuss personal information regarding their employees. But hospital spokeswoman Jean Wicken said that they would definitely look into allegations of an employee lying on the application. "And something serious that would reflect upon patient care would be looked at in a much different manner," Wicken said.