- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An Anchorage emergency room doctor charged in the sexual abuse of three girls was arrested at an Alaska airport and held on $500,000 bail.

Clifford R. Merchant, 67, was taken into custody on Saturday on an outstanding warrant as he entered Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, authorities said.

He had a reservation for an out-of-state flight, the Alaska Dispatch News (https://bit.ly/ZUJPYr) reported.

Merchant was previously indicted on 14 felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of attempted sexual abuse of a minor.

In July, a 12-year-old girl told an Alaska State Trooper investigator that Merchant had touched her inappropriately. Investigators determined that two other girls also had been abused, troopers said.

The abuse occurred between 2001 and 2013, when all three girls were under the age of 13, the indictment states.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Merchant.

Prosecutors said in court documents that the girls were abused at Merchant’s home, in his airplane and at his cabin at Shell Lake near Skwentna.

Merchant is a longtime contract physician who worked in the emergency department at Providence Alaska Medical Center. His physician privileges have been suspended, hospital spokesman Mike Canfield said in an email.

“Providence is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation and will notify the Alaska State Medical Board,” Canfield said.

Merchant is majority owner of First Care Medical Centers LLC, which operates two Anchorage walk-in medical clinics, according to state business license documents.

He was arraigned Sunday. He told a magistrate he had hired a private attorney. He remained jailed Monday.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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