Doctor charged with sexually abusing patients makes court appearance

Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Martin McDonald

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Already facing similar charges in Dunklin County, a former Poplar Bluff doctor made his first appearance in a Butler County courtroom Thursday morning after being charged with inappropriately touching three female patients.

Dr. Martin McDonald, 52, signed a waiver of arraignment form before Associate Circuit Judge John Bloodworth, who set McDonald's preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. Feb. 3.

After his court appearance, McDonald was arrested on a warrant charging him with six felonies of sexual abuse. He is accused of providing what authorities described as unrequested breast exams.

McDonald, of Wappapello, Mo., subsequently was booked at the Butler County Justice Center at 10:10 a.m. and released afterward, posting a $25,000 bond. A special condition of McDonald's bond is he is to have no contact with female patients.

The charges against McDonald were filed Dec. 27 by Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Sokoloff, who was appointed special prosecutor for the case.

The complaint on file with the court alleges McDonald subjected the first woman to "sexual contact, without her consent, by the use of forcible compulsion, to-wit: by fondling her breast" on Sept. 14 and Oct. 11, the second woman on Aug. 31 and Sept. 28 and the third woman on Aug. 30 and Sept. 28.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Poplar Bluff Police Department, which was initiated after McDonald, who at the time was a family practice physician at the Pehlman Family Clinic on North Douglas in Malden, Mo., was charged with two felonies of sexual abuse in Dunklin County.

The three women provided police Lt. David Sutton with verbal and written statements regarding incidents, which were alleged to have occurred when they sought treatment from McDonald at the Plunkett Family Care Center on Three Rivers Boulevard.

"The victims had each seen Dr. McDonald one time in September and one time in October," Sutton said in his probable cause statement on file with the court. "These visits were for examinations required for refills on prescription medications."

During their visits, Sutton said, McDonald "exposed and fondled the victims' breasts without their consent, in a manner which was not consistent with their medical treatment."

The charges McDonald faces in Dunklin County are similar and were filed after the sheriff's department there received complaints from three women.

McDonald, who previously also practiced in Doniphan, Mo., is to appear at 1 p.m. Jan. 25 for a preliminary hearing on the Dunklin County charges before Associate Circuit Judge John Spielman.

After he was charged in Dunklin County, the State Board of Registration for Healing Arts suspended McDonald's medical license in November, saying he had violated his probation agreement to treat female patients in the presence of chaperones and to perform proper breast exams only as needed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier this month.

At the time of his October arrest, McDonald's medical license was on a 10-year term of probation through the State Board of Registration for Healing Arts for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient for 30 days in 2005 and for inappropriately and unnecessarily performing breast examinations.

According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation, which prominently featured McDonald, the doctor told the board he was a diagnosed frotteur: a person with intense urges to touch or rub the sex organs of nonconsenting victims.

The board did not suspend McDonald's license at that time, which would have prevented him from seeing patients, but reportedly extended his probation to 2017.

In the board's disciplinary order, McDonald was to follow the recommendations from Acumen Assessments Inc. and Behavioral Medicine Institute of Atlanta, as well as make arrangements with an approved psychiatrist, who was to update the board quarterly in regards to his treatment.

Documents from the Healing Arts board indicated that when the board placed McDonald on probation in February 2007, his license already was on a seven-year term of probation.

McDonald had been placed on that term of probation in July 2002 after issues related to his record keeping and mishandling of narcotics, including the purchase of 4,000 alprazolam (generic Xanax) tablets, which were given to his office manager for her personal use, were found.

The board took its action after the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs placed McDonald's Missouri controlled substances registration on five-year probations in June 2000 and May 2001 for not maintaining records in regards to the dispensing of narcotics.

Pertinent address:

Poplar Bluff, MO

Wappapello, MO

Doniphan, MO

Malden, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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