COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the 2018 conviction in Lima Municipal Court of a Bluffton doctor charged with inappropriately touching female patients.
The state’s high court on Dec. 15 reversed an opinion issued by the Third District Court of Appeals. It ruled a state medical board investigator did not violate the constitutional rights of Dr. James Gideon by providing police with the doctor’s admission that he inappropriately touched patients.
In a 6-1 decision, the court reversed the appellate court’s decision which would have barred the statements Gideon made to a State Medical Board of Ohio investigator from being used in his trial for sexual imposition.
The Third District had previously ruled the Lima Municipal Court improperly rejected Gideon’s attempt to suppress the statement.
Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart, writing for the majority, wrote a doctor’s rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment would be violated if a medical board threatened the loss of a license if a doctor refused to answer an investigator’s questions. But in Gideon’s case, he was not threatened with any punishment by the medical board when he admitted to misconduct, Stewart wrote.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Michael P. Donnelly said the Third District issued a well-reasoned opinion showing that investigator Chad Yoakam was acting as a “straw man” for the Bluffton Police Department and coerced Gideon into making self-incriminating statements.
Gideon, a rheumatology and internal medicine physician, was found guilty by a Lima jury in April 2018 on three counts of sexual imposition, third-degree felonies, for allegedly groping female patients. Three additional sexual imposition charges, each based on similar complaints from other female patients, were dismissed by prosecutors just before the case went to trial.
Gideon was sentenced by Municipal Court Judge Tammie Hursh to 180 days in the Allen County jail and was classified a Tier I sex offender.