- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A physician known nationally for his work with poor hepatitis patients was sentenced yesterday to three years of supervised probation to settle charges that he molested two female patients at his private family practice.

Michael S. Rudman, 57, of Middletown, pleaded guilty in Frederick County Circuit Court to one count of second-degree assault involving a victim who was 41 when the incident occurred in February 2005.

The plea was an Alford plea, in which Rudman denied having rubbed himself against the woman’s back for sexual gratification while massaging her neck but acknowledged that the state had enough evidence for a conviction.

“I deny that this had occurred,” Rudman told Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr.

In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped two other assault charges and three counts of fourth-degree sex offense. Judge Dwyer also granted Rudman probation before judgment, which means the conviction will be expunged unless he violates the terms of his probation.

Rudman’s lawyer, Alan L. Winik, said his client has ended his private practice at the Middletown Valley Family Medical Center but remains the medical director of the Frederick County Hepatitis Clinic, which he founded in 2000 to treat indigent patients with hepatitis C.

Rudman is under orders from the Maryland Board of Physicians to refrain from practicing any sort of patient massage and to have a female chaperone present during every visit with female patients.

The criminal charges stemmed from an investigation that began in July 2005 after another of Rudman’s family practice patients, a 50-year-old woman, complained to the physician’s board that he had fondled her breast and pelvic area and pressed himself against her during a series of office visits in 2004 and 2005.

Nine other women complained of similar misconduct, dating back to the late 1970s, according to the medical board’s 20-page report on its investigation. None of the accusations led to criminal charges.

The charge to which Rudman pleaded reflected “totally inappropriate behavior,” Assistant State’s Attorney Patty McLane said. But she acknowledged Rudman’s “good works in the community, especially the hepatitis C clinic.”

Mr. Winik said that aside from the accusations against Rudman, “his professional life has been characterized by service to others, often without remuneration.” He also said Rudman earns $15,000 a year at the hepatitis clinic.

Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause serious liver disease if left untreated. In testimony before the U.S. House Government Reform Committee in December 2004, Rudman said the clinic had treated more than 1,000 patients, including people from as far away as Colorado and Florida.

Maryland law provides for the suspension of licenses of physicians convicted of crimes of “moral turpitude” but doesn’t define the term, said Karen Wulff, a board policy analyst. She said it could take some time for the board to take action resulting from Rudman’s plea. His medical license expires Sept. 30, 2007.

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