Investigations


Still forgiven: Doctors & Sex Abuse — AJC National Investigation

A new national investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has uncovered 450 cases of doctors who were brought before medical regulators or courts for sexual misconduct or sex crimes in 2016 and 2017. In nearly half of those cases, the AJC found, the doctors remain licensed to practice medicine, no matter whether the victims were patients or employees, adults or children. Even some doctors criminally...


State official failed to delve into prison doctor’s troubled past

State official failed to delve into prison doctor’s troubled past

For years, those whose loved ones died while in the care of Dr. Yvon Nazaire have wondered, often in angered tones, how he got his job. How could anyone make a doctor with a public history of neglecting emergency room patients in New York responsible for the medical needs of women in the largely unsupervised world of the Georgia prison system? Now, deposition testimony from a recently settled...
‘Dancing doctor’ called threat to public safety by state medical board

‘Dancing doctor’ called threat to public safety by state medical board

A day after Sherita Cox had a cosmetic makeover by Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, she struggled to breathe and was bleeding from surgical incisions. Taken by ambulance to a hospital, she was found to have a collapsed lung and be suffering from anemia due to acute blood loss. Her case apparently pushed the Georgia Composite Medical Board to finally take action against the Gwinnett physician. Investigators...
17 former students now allege sex abuse at Georgia boarding school

17 former students now allege sex abuse at Georgia boarding school

A year after reports surfaced of decades-old sexual abuse at a Georgia boarding school, seven more former students say they, too, were victims. Sixteen former students of the Darlington School in Rome now allege that a longtime English teacher and dorm master molested or sexually harassed them during the 1970s and 1980s. Another former student, who died by suicide in 2016, also said the same...
‘Dancing doctor’ suspended by medical board

‘Dancing doctor’ suspended by medical board

More than two years after receiving reports of alleged malpractice at Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte’s cosmetic surgery practice, the Georgia Composite Medical Board today immediately suspended the Gwinnett physician’s license. Citing the case of a woman who underwent surgery last week, the board order says that Davis-Boutte’s treatment of the patient failed to meet the minimal standards...
Women say Gwinnett doctor invaded privacy with online video, photos

Women say Gwinnett doctor invaded privacy with online video, photos

Millions of people saw a video of a Gwinnett doctor singing along to the rap song “Cut It” and mugging for the camera while cutting into a patient’s flesh. Now, the woman in that video has told Channel 2 Action News that the cosmetic surgery left her disfigured. She also said she never gave permission for Dr. Windell C. Davis-Boutte to post the video online. “To see that video...
Sex assault claims against Tech coach an elaborate con, report says

Sex assault claims against Tech coach an elaborate con, report says

Ron Bell presented himself as Josh Pastner’s biggest fan. So when the Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach didn’t show the proper appreciation for his loyalty, Bell lashed out. “You know in poker, Kerri, they say that if you can’t spot the sucker at the table, then the sucker is you,” Bell texted the coach’s wife in February 2017. “I kinda feel that way...
After 42 years in state institutions, a home of her own

After 42 years in state institutions, a home of her own

Georgia has kept 44-year-old Lucretia Felder in state institutions, from foster care to a prison hospital, for 42 years. On Friday, a judge gave the state 90 days to find her a home. Felder, whose case was the focus of a recent investigative story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will live alone but will have full-time caregivers. Medicaid, the government health care program for the...
Amid opioid crisis, drug-abusing nurses get secret sanctions

Amid opioid crisis, drug-abusing nurses get secret sanctions

The nurse was seen on duty at the hospital with red, dilated eyes, her speech slurred, her behavior drowsy. Trusted to care for people at their most vulnerable and fragile, instead she had taken opioids intended for patients and injected herself. Without a doctor’s OK, another nurse ordered Demerol and Benadryl for an emergency room patient, but that patient had already been discharged. Later...
It’s consumer beware for cosmetic surgery in Georgia

It’s consumer beware for cosmetic surgery in Georgia

» Part 2 of 2 (read Part 1 here) The goals were beauty and confidence, but the results were disfigurement, disability or death. In 2013, Dr. Nedra Dodds, who was trained as an ER doctor, performed liposuction and fat injections on a 37-year-old, April Jenkins, who screamed during the surgery, “It’s tearing. It’s burning.” A worker stuffed a towel in her mouth...
Do your homework before cosmetic surgery

Do your homework before cosmetic surgery

» Read series: Parts 1 and 2 here It’s consumers beware when it comes to cosmetic surgery in Georgia. The state has virtually no limits on which doctors can do cosmetic surgery, where they can do it, and what they say in their advertising, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found. To protect yourself, take these steps: Check out the doctor...
Woman left brain damaged after cosmetic surgery

Woman left brain damaged after cosmetic surgery

» Part 1 of 2 (read Part 2 here) With her wedding just two months away, Icilma Cornelius arrived at the Lilburn office of Dr. Windell Boutte to prepare for her special day. The 54-year-old bride-to-be came to the doctor’s full-service medical spa and cosmetic surgery center for Botox and another anti-wrinkle treatment. While there, the staff recommended cosmetic surgery that...
VA workers accused of taking gifts to push Marietta firm’s products

VA workers accused of taking gifts to push Marietta firm’s products

A biopharma company run by one of Georgia’s most successful and politically-connected businessmen showered gifts on three Department of Veterans Affairs workers, leading them to commit health care fraud by stocking the company’s products, a federal indictment alleges. While no one working for Parker “Pete” Petit’s MiMedx Group has been criminally accused, the charges...
Cleanup at Ga. prison hospital leads to yet another problem — asbestos

Cleanup at Ga. prison hospital leads to yet another problem — asbestos

When the Georgia Department of Corrections began working earlier this year to improve conditions at Augusta State Medical Prison, the first order of business was a deep cleaning. After years of neglect, a thorough scrubbing of the building with disinfectant was desperately needed. But what was supposed to be a major step in bringing the state’s flagship prison medical facility up to hospital...
When massage therapists cross the line, state board rarely acts

When massage therapists cross the line, state board rarely acts

The woman lay frozen on the massage table, exposed, vulnerable, not knowing what to do. Her therapist had grabbed her underwear and moved it to expose her buttocks, then he started massaging her backside so hard that she hurt, according to a complaint she filed with state regulators. She ordered him repeatedly to stop, but he ignored her, she reported. It was late in the evening, and she was the last...
GBI inquiry into Atlanta City Hall focuses on water bills

GBI inquiry into Atlanta City Hall focuses on water bills

As part of an ongoing investigation into criminal violations of the Georgia Open Records Act at Atlanta City Hall, state investigators have begun scheduling interviews with past and current city council members. According to a Channel 2 Action News report, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are inquiring about water bills — the same records that former Mayor Kasim Reed’s press...
Doctors cut plea deals for sex crimes

Doctors cut plea deals for sex crimes

Predator physician Larry Nassar has essentially received a life sentence for his guilty pleas in two Michigan state courts. In January, he received a sentence of 40 to 175 years after pleading guilty to seven assaults in Ingham County. In February, he was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison after pleading guilty to three sexual assaults in Eaton County. The sentences will run concurrently. Before...
He was caught on video, but Georgia doctor kept his medical license

He was caught on video, but Georgia doctor kept his medical license

Her family and friends said leave it alone, but Lisa Miller had other ideas. Convinced that her doctor had sexually violated her during her last visit, she believed she had to do something to expose him. She also knew she couldn’t let it come down to her word against his. So there she was, back in Dr. Daniel Tesfaye’s office at DeKalb Medical Center, this time with her cell phone in video...
2016 investigation revealed broken system

2016 investigation revealed broken system

No one had accurate data on doctor sex abuse cases until the AJC in 2016 published a national investigation based on its review of thousands of medical board and court documents. The series revealed that disturbing cases — rapes by OB/GYNs, seductions by psychiatrists, molestations by pediatricians and fondling by anesthesiologists — happen far more often than anyone had acknowledged....
Threat of sanction on Atlanta home health agency lifted

Threat of sanction on Atlanta home health agency lifted

Thousands of Georgia patients struggling with debilitating medical problems depend on Visiting Nurse Health System to provide care for them in their own homes. But the nonprofit organization had been threatened this month with a cutoff in federal funding after inspections found issues said to potentially jeopardize some patients’ health and safety. In sampling cases of six of Visiting Nurse&rsquo...
Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real-estate deals

Sean Hannity, a Trump defender, under scrutiny for real-estate deals

On his Fox News program last summer, Sean Hannity effused praise for his guest, U.S. housing secretary Ben Carson. “I know you have done a good job,” Hannity said. “You are a good man.” Carson’s presence gave Hannity a chance to address a favorite topic: What he considers a low rate of home ownership in the United States. He noted that Carson’s agency, the Department...
After 42 years in state institutions, woman seeks a home of her own

After 42 years in state institutions, woman seeks a home of her own

Lucretia Felder was 2 when social workers placed her in foster care. Soon she moved on: to group homes, to a residential school for intellectually disabled children, to a “retardation center” for adults. She spent time in one state psychiatric hospital, then another, then one more. She went to jail. Finally, she ended up in a medical prison, an inmate never convicted of a crime. Georgia...
FDA to block bulk sales of pure caffeine, citing Georgia, Ohio deaths

FDA to block bulk sales of pure caffeine, citing Georgia, Ohio deaths

The morning that James Wade Sweatt first tried a powdered caffeine supplement, his heart went into cardiac arrest. For the next 11 days, he was in a coma. Despite efforts to save him, the 24-year-old Alpharetta engineer died. Now, nearly four years after his death, the federal Food and Drug Administration has announced a crackdown on highly concentrated caffeine products, saying they pose a significant...
Despite FDA crackdown, stem cell therapy still ‘wild west’

Despite FDA crackdown, stem cell therapy still ‘wild west’

The treatment seemed like an answer to prayers, courtesy of science. A shot of stem cells, the building blocks of all human tissues, could turn back the clock on Loy Roper’s aching back, sparing him a third spinal surgery. So he used a credit card to pay $9,300 to a Cherokee County pain clinic run mostly by chiropractors and attached to a 24/7 gym. Roper said a nurse had him lean over a table...
Atlanta Massage Envy therapist sexually assaulted client, lawsuit says

Atlanta Massage Envy therapist sexually assaulted client, lawsuit says

Massage Envy therapists from at least four metro Atlanta locations have now been accused of sexually violating women, with the latest lawsuit filed this week in Fulton County State Court.  The lawsuit alleges that near the end of a massage at the Massage Envy on Howell Mill Road in Atlanta in 2016, the therapist inserted his finger into the woman’s vagina.  “What are you doing!...
Tech coach’s accuser jailed on old Georgia warrant

Tech coach’s accuser jailed on old Georgia warrant

The Arizona man who accused Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner of sexually assaulting his girlfriend has been arrested as a fugitive from Georgia. Ron Bell, 51, of Tucson was arrested on a warrant issued by a judge in Cobb County in 2001, shortly after he moved out of Georgia without permission while serving a probated sentence for theft. Bell, the subject of a recent story in...
Pastner’s accuser jailed as a Georgia fugitive

Pastner’s accuser jailed as a Georgia fugitive

The Arizona man who accused Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner of sexually assaulting his girlfriend has been arrested as a fugitive from Georgia. Ron Bell, 51, of Tucson, was taken into custody Wednesday on a fugitive warrant from Georgia and is being held without bond, according to the Pima County, Arizona, sheriff’s department. Jail records do not indicate the nature...
Jury quickly says ‘not guilty’ in Georgia elections case 

Jury quickly says ‘not guilty’ in Georgia elections case 

It took a South Georgia jury just 20 minutes to find Olivia Pearson not guilty.  But the speedy verdict last month came at the end of a case that dragged on for years and came to be viewed by some as a blatant attempt to intimidate minority voters in a rural region of Georgia.  Pearson -- the first black woman to be elected to the Douglas City Commission, where she has served for 18 years...
Code of silence, weak laws protect sexual predator doctors

Code of silence, weak laws protect sexual predator doctors

Hundreds of girls and women sexually assaulted by Dr. Larry Nassar might have been spared, had University of Michigan employees who were told of his abuse decades earlier reported him to authorities.  Michigan’s remedy now, according to news reports about the USA Gymnastics doctor, is to require more people, including college employees, to report suspected child abuse, and to up the...
Water chief alleged chaos, mismanagement in DeKalb

Water chief alleged chaos, mismanagement in DeKalb

DeKalb County’s crippling water main break last week marked the latest large-scale failure of metro Atlanta’s fragile infrastructure, while amplifying a new chapter of turmoil in an agency that’s been at the center of a series of scandals for more than a decade. The break in an underground pipe off Buford Highway upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people...
Pending court ruling could be pivotal in health care fraud cases

Pending court ruling could be pivotal in health care fraud cases

Elderly people were the target, and wherever they might congregate, the company dispatched recruiters. Workers rode along on Meals on Wheels deliveries and went door-to-door in government-subsidized housing. Then they’d pitch what sounded like home care services paid for by the government. Instead, the elderly were being enrolled in Medicare-funded hospice based on what the government says were...
AJC Watchdog: Why the state cut the mic on the Ga. gun control rally

AJC Watchdog: Why the state cut the mic on the Ga. gun control rally

Organizers of a massive gun-control rally outside of the State Capitol last week struggled to be heard. That’s because their sound system didn’t work — the electrical outlets at Liberty Plaza were dead. As more than 1,500 strained to hear speakers, longtime State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, who attended the rally, did what politicians do these days when they get angry...
Atlanta prison too harsh for Russian hacker

Atlanta prison too harsh for Russian hacker

What with the booze smuggling, taxi service for escapees and takeout food from nearby restaurants, the federal prison camp in Atlanta doesn’t exactly define “hard time.” Inmates would come and go from the minimum-security camp adjacent to the federal penitentiary -- at least until the AJC ran a story about how inmates were breaking out and sneaking back in with contraband. Apparently...
Bill would suspend sexually abusive doctors in Georgia

Bill would suspend sexually abusive doctors in Georgia

Doctors who sexually assault a patient would face a required license suspension or revocation under a new bill introduced at the Georgia General Assembly.  House Bill 1000, sponsored by Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, would also require the state’s health care professionals to report a physician they believe has committed a sexual assault on a patient.  “My opinion is that any...
Booting bill gets unsympathetic hearing in House committee

Booting bill gets unsympathetic hearing in House committee

Car booters got a rough ride in a state House committee considering legislation  to legalize the practice. The industry wanted booting legalized throughout the state and charge a $85 fee. Instead, the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee said booting could only be legal where jurisdictions explicitly allow it. And it set the maximum fee at $65. Local ordinances could be even...
New Orleans lawyer to lead investigation of Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner

New Orleans lawyer to lead investigation of Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner

A New Orleans-based lawyer is leading an investigation into allegations that Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner sexually assaulted an Arizona woman. Tech hired attorney Scott Schneider of the law firm Fisher Phillips to lead the review, announced last week after the woman, Jennifer Pendley, and her boyfriend, Ron Bell, sued Pastner. The coach had earlier sued Pendley and Bell,...
Larry Nassar isn’t the only bad doc at the Tucson pen

Larry Nassar isn’t the only bad doc at the Tucson pen

At Larry Nassar’s new residence – the federal penitentiary in Tucson – he’s not the only inmate with both a medical degree and a horrifying criminal history. Nassar, the doctor who was recently convicted for sexually abusing young gymnasts, is now at the same prison where Dr. Craig A. Morgenstern is serving time for his sex crimes. Morgenstern, who practiced in Washington...
The coach and the ex-con

The coach and the ex-con

For his 40th birthday last fall, Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner got a unique gift from his biggest fan. It was a limited-edition T-shirt bearing some of Pastner’s favorite motivational phrases: “Positive energy only.” “Attitude of gratitude.” “Hope is a bad strategy.” And this: “There are no secrets.” Just six days later, the same...
Ga. doctor under DEA scrutiny over prescribing of weight-loss drug

Ga. doctor under DEA scrutiny over prescribing of weight-loss drug

A high-profile Georgia weight-loss doctor is closing her practice and facing scrutiny from federal authorities following an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation of the sale of a prescription diet drug over the internet. A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta said the agency is looking closely at Dr. Jan McBarron as a result of the newspaper’s December...
Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Several months ago, I wrote about a legal effort to end booting as a parking enforcement practice in Georgia. Since then I’ve gotten a regular stream of complaints from metro area drivers who are enraged at booting companies and the businesses that hire them. I told many of them I would keep an eye out to see if state lawmakers addressed the issue. They have, but not as I expected. ...
Real estate agent bilked investors of millions, feds say

Real estate agent bilked investors of millions, feds say

Every which way she could, an Atlanta real estate agent bilked a group of foreign investors out of millions of dollars, the government alleges in a criminal complaint.  She embezzled some $930,000. Inflated sale prices to pocket another $1.1 million. But the big money, a criminal complaint alleges, came from even more brazen schemes. She fleeced investors of $8 million with phantom property sales...
Georgia man sues Amazon after hoverboard fire destroys home

Georgia man sues Amazon after hoverboard fire destroys home

Irvin R. Love was searching Amazon for the perfect Christmas gift for his girlfriend’s daughter when a hoverboard popped up at a bargain price. But the $264 hoverboard that was supposed to make Christmas 2015 special ended up torching Love’s Georgia home and leaving him so badly injured that doctors resorted to placing cadaver skin over his severe burns, according to a new lawsuit. The...
How much did Gov. Deal know about his state dental board pick?

How much did Gov. Deal know about his state dental board pick?

Dale G. Mayfield, an executive for the Kool Smiles chain of dental clinics, filled out an application to be on Georgia’s dental licensing board in February 2016. Three days later, Gov. Nathan Deal issued an order appointing him to the Georgia Board of Dentistry. “Mayfield is the chief dental officer of Kool Smiles,” Deal’s news release said. But if anyone had bothered...
Georgia Tech investigating sexual assault claims against coach Josh Pastner

Georgia Tech investigating sexual assault claims against coach Josh Pastner

Georgia Tech opened an investigation Friday into allegations its men’s basketball coach sexually assaulted an Arizona woman. The school said it would hire an “outside, independent” investigator to look into charges against second-year coach Josh Pastner. He was accused in a lawsuit filed Thursday of assaulting or harassing the woman more than a dozen times in 2016. “We...
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