This past week, The Atlanta Journal Constitution did an incredible investigative series about doctors and sex abuse cases across this entire country.
What these journalists, led by reporters Ariel Hart, Danny Robbins and Carrie Teegardin, discovered was deeply disturbing.
In Georgia, they focused on a case involving an Augusta physician named Dr. William Almon who served as an Army psychiatrist, occupational medicine specialist, family practitioner and musculoskeletal expert.
“In three different settings, Almon faced allegations that he sexually violated extremely vulnerable female patients — a suicidal soldier, jail inmates, a mentally ill woman and a child of 14 — and every time was effectively given a pass,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Of the thousands of cases reviewed by the newspaper in its investigation of physician sexual misconduct, the paper stated “few show the forces that protect offending doctors more dramatically” than the case of Almon.
When Almon worked at Fort Gordon as a psychiatric resident and held the rank of major, the AJC reported that he admitted that he had sex with a hospitalized patient.
“The patient, a private, was found immediately afterward on the floor of her hospital room, curled up and crying,” the newspaper reported. “The Army could have charged him with several violations. Instead, it allowed him to resign in lieu of facing a court-martial.”
Almon then went on to serve as physician at the Augusta jail were he was charged with sexually abusing three inmates.
“At least one passed a lie detector test, and a nurse told police that the doctor went out of his way to treat female inmates without anyone else in the room,” the newspaper wrote. “Yet prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges, believing a conviction was unlikely.”
Almon then moved on to Hiram, Ga. were he began working at WellStar’s East Paulding Primary Care Center.
Even though corporate officials were aware of his background, they hired Almon anyway, and he was accused of molesting two patients.
“One was a woman who is schizophrenic. The other was a 14-year-old girl,” the AJC reported. “The charges could have brought a prison sentence, but prosecutors allowed the doctor to plead no contest to misdemeanor counts of battery and sexual battery and receive probation. Then the Georgia Composite Medical Board negotiated an agreement that let him continue practicing as long as he complied with certain requirements.”
But the real eye-opener in the AJC’s story was that Almon is still practicing to this very day in the Atlanta area.
So what did Almon have to say about this investigative story about him and his past sexual behavior with his patients?
He told the AJC he did not want to discuss his past.
“The fact is, people looked into these things, (the incidents) were investigated by the authorities and what happened happened,” Almon told the AJC. “And I accepted that. I have gone on. That’s where I am right now.”
Almon said the “boundary and ethics” training that the medical board required of him several years back had a profound affect on him.
“A board order comes with sanctions,” he told the paper. “The force of those sanctions make you think. What did I do here? How is it perceived? Why was it perceived (a certain way)? What do I need to do to be different and to change?”
He insisted to the AJC, “I am a very different person.”
Chances are these women he abused at Fort Gordon’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Medical Center and the Augusta Jail aren’t the only ones.
There are likely other women in the Augusta area that were sexually abused by this man.
According to the article, Almon was at Fort Gordon back in 1988 and the incident where he had sex with a patient occurred in his office.
She was apparently suffering from suicidal tendencies and a borderline personality disorder.
After the woman was sexually abused by Almon, she told an Army nurse that she felt “like a slut.”
“I want to die,” she said. “I just want to die.”
No one should ever experience something so terrible at the hands of a physician. A doctor is someone the public has almost no choice but to trust.
When patients walk into a doctor’s office, they are often scared, sick, confused and very vulnerable.
For a doctor to take advantage of such a situation is not just inhumane, it’s criminal.
Dr. William Almon should be in jail.
At the very least, he shouldn’t be practicing.
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the journalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the entire world can now know about Almon’s past.
Patients now have the power to determine for themselves the truth as to whether Almon is a “different person” or not.
But, more importantly, this news investigation gives the public a voice to demand change in the medical field and prevent such horrific acts of sexual abuse from continuing across this country.
Because what the AJC uncovered about doctors and sex abuse is absolutely sickening.