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Why chiropractor charged with sex crimes was allowed to keep seeing patients

Attorney: 'They can't see the room full of invisible victims that doctor is going to continue to take advantage of'
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Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 19:43:17-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Many viewers reached out after seeing our investigation into chiropractor Michael Pollock with one question: why did the board keep allowing him to practice despite a long history of complaints and discipline dating back to 1984?

Here is how the process works.

Whenever a complaint of sexual misconduct is made to the Virginia Department of Health Professions (VDHP) about a chiropractor or doctor, a full investigation is conducted and then the Virginia Board of Medicine considers the case.

The board is made up of 18 people: four of them are regular citizens, and the rest are professionals in the field of medicine.

All board members are appointed by the governor.

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Barbara Allison-Bryan with the VDHP says the board "is authorized to take action against a license if there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation of law or regulation that governs the profession. The Board strives to take proportionate action for the violations proven. Actions can range from a fine, reprimand, probation, suspension or revocation. The Board has the authority to take a practitioner out of practice swiftly by summary suspension if the evidence supports that there is a substantial danger to the public health or safety”.

Medical malpractice attorney Eric Nielson said in his over 30 years in practice in Utah, he has seen boards repeatedly go easy on the medical professional.

"They give them all kinds of chances, all kinds of second, third and fourth chances. They don't want to take away their license, and they certainly don't want to refer them over for criminal prosecution," Nielson said.

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Mugshot of Dr. Michael Pollock

In the Pollock case, the board investigated complaints involving alleged misconduct four times.

They only pulled his license once, and he got it back within a year-and-a-half.

Among the non-suspension punishments he faced for other incidents the board investigated: mentoring, therapy, and a requirement that he have a female chaperon in the room when treating female patients.

"I think the problem they have is they can't see the room full of invisible victims that doctor is going to continue to take advantage of for years down the road," Nielson said.

Allison-Bryan said the Board does not have the legal authority to permanently revoke or suspend a license, regardless of the number of previous violations.

Victim advocate Kate Hanger with the Virginia Victim Assistance Network said cases like this one can leave victims feeling betrayed.

"When a victim of sexual assault learns their victimization could have be prevented and should have been prevented because their perpetrator had been reported in the past, that's re-victimization in itself," Hanger said.

And she said statistics show that the number of people who actually come forward and report sexual assaults is far less than the amount of assaults that occurred.

"Typically when the other victims who didn't report learn that someone came forward they realize it wasn't a one time incident that happened to them, and they have the courage to come forward about what happened to them as well," Hanger said.

Chesterfield Police said multiple alleged victims have come forward since Pollock was arrested, and they are working with the Commonwealth's Attorney's office to determine if they can prosecute the new cases.

Pollock is currently facing three aggravated sexual battery charges, and one object sexual penetration charge. WTVR CBS 6 has reached out to his attorney for comment, and we are still waiting to hear back