Why medical and nursing boards don't always know when a doctor or nurse is convicted of a crime

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Posted at 12:56 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 18:26:30-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Boards of Medicine and Nursing don't always know when a licensee is convicted or charged with a crime.

First, there was Shawn Robinson.

The massage therapist was convicted of sexual battery in Chesterfield in July 2020 after a woman told police he raped her during a massage.

He only served four months in jail, and the Board of Nursing did not pull his license until October of that year. During that time, he was able to get another job in Williamsburg where he was later arrested and convicted of sexually assaulting five additional women.

"I do blame the nursing board for failing to recognize this guy a little earlier," Chaz Roca, one of Robinson's victims, said. "It doesn't make sense to me, how long does it take? A predator is out there putting hands on women on a daily basis."

Then, there is Dr. Michael Pollock, a chiropractor who was charged in June with sexual battery and object sexual penetration in Richmond after two women alleged that he assaulted them at the Advanced Wellness Center in May.

Despite the charges and lengthy history with the Board of Medicine who investigated him several times for sexual misconduct, Pollock still has an active medical license.

"I think the Board of Medicine needs to reevaluate how they handle their cases," one of Pollock's accusers, who asked to remain anonymous, said. "They're responsible. It's the board's fault, and they should have listened to multiple women talk about their experiences and take it seriously."

Robinson's victims and Pollock's accusers said the licensing boards did not do enough to protect them.

So we took their concerns and questions to the man in charge of the agency that oversees the state's 13 health regulatory boards: Dr. David Brown.

"All of our boards take their job seriously," Dr. Brown said.

Brown said he could not, by law, comment on individual cases or licensees.

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers asked why a spokeswoman at the Virginia Department of Health Professions told Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit she would have to call security if she tried to interview a member of the Board of Medicine at a recent disciplinary hearing.

"It's illegal for a board member to discuss what is in the case file. They read through lots of material before they come to a meeting, so the only thing that is publicly available is what is said in the meeting," Brown said. "Our concern is that if a board member attempted to answer any questions that might stray from what was discussed to what they learned about reviewing case files, so it's a perilous position for them to be in, at risk of breaking the law."

Brown added that board members are not allowed to discuss their decisions.

"It's a great question people often want to know, especially people who have made any complaint to the board, they often want to know why wasn't more done, why was that what occurred. The answers to that, the only answers, are contained in the orders that are issued by the board," Brown said.

We also asked Brown about why a licensee who was convicted of a crime of a sexual nature on the job might not have their license immediately suspended.

"Sometimes we are notified of that, sometimes we are not. That's one of the areas that potentially needs to be strengthened, to notify us when all of our licensees are convicted," Brown said. "They currently don't."

Brown is referring to courts not notifying the licensing boards.

We also found out the boards may not know when a licensee is charged with a crime.

"We are authorized in Virginia Code to disclose violations of criminal law to members of law enforcement, and we do that on a regular basis. At the same time, we sometimes receive notifications from law enforcement of potential violations of law against our licensees," Brown said.

"So there is no law requiring law enforcement to alert you to violations of law involving law enforcement?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Brown.

"I am not aware of any," Brown replied.

Because the Department of Health Professions is not automatically notified if a licensee is charged or convicted of a crime, Brown urges members of the public to file complaints against licensees as soon as possible so the DHP can investigate, and a board can take action as quickly as possible.

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