Board Told to Hand Over Patients’ Nude Photos

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – A state court judge on Wednesday ordered the Medical Board of California to release at least 1,300 nude photos to counsel as evidence in a civil case against a doctor who took pictures of unsuspecting female patients.
     San Diego Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack told counsel “my feelings I expressed last time haven’t really changed” referencing the previous hearing where he instructed the medical board to prepare to release the photos to attorney Jessica Pride, who is representing the 10 women suing the clinic where Dr. Jeffrey Abrams volunteered.
     The board retained the photos during an investigation into Abrams’ conduct by its investigator Jose Partida. Releasing the photos to counsel could compromise the board’s pending administrative proceeding against Abrams, the board argued.
     It added that permanently revoking Abrams’ medical license to protect citizens of the state is a more compelling interest than that of the plaintiffs seeking to recover damages, and warrants protection of the photographs.
     Plaintiffs previously met with Partida to review and identify the photographs and cross-reference patients’ medical appointments with the date and time stamp associated with the pictures, according to plaintiff’s request to release evidence.
     The photos were downloaded from a cellphone and retained the original data including the date and time stamp, according to Deputy Attorney General Leanna Shields, representing the board.
     Abrams was a volunteer doctor at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in San Diego where he had access to female patients and took nude or partially nude photos of the women between 2009 and 2014, according to court documents.
     The women believed the photographs were for medical purposes. Most of the women went to the clinic because they did not have health insurance and needed referrals to see specialists, according to the original complaint.
     Abrams pleaded guilty in September 2015 in a criminal case and was sentenced to one year of house arrest and five years of probation. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life and was barred from practicing medicine again, according to 10 News.
     Abrams’ medical license was suspended on Oct. 31, 2014. The state Attorney General’s office is still in the process of permanently revoking Abrams’ medical license, according to the plaintiffs’ request.
     The women argued they “will be severely prejudiced without access to copies of the pictures of their own bodies” in order to litigate the case and value the damages.
     Pollack ordered the photos be released as soon as possible. The evidence was subject to a protective order.
     Three additional lawsuits against Abrams and the clinic were filed in January by women who say they were assaulted by Abrams. Pollack said he anticipated presiding over all cases related to the incident.
     All three plaintiffs are represented by Pride, who did not return a phone request for comment.
     Shields did not return a phone request for comment.
     The next hearing is scheduled for May 13.

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