Bend doctor charged with sexual abuse

Kelly Kearsley Lisa Rosetta

A Bend doctor was arraigned in Deschutes County Circuit Court on Wednesday on charges of sexually abusing two of his patients.

A Deschutes County grand jury indicted Dr. Ronald C. Stevenson, an obstetrician and gynecologist, on Aug. 4 on one count of second-degree felony sex abuse and four counts of third-degree misdemeanor sex abuse.

A grand jury works behind closed doors and its work is not always immediately disclosed. In the case of the Stevenson indictment, the charging documents were not made public until the arraignment.

However, the charges, without the details, mistakenly appeared in the Oregon Judicial Information Network on Aug. 4.

The two victims named in the charging documents were patients of Stevenson, said Michael Dugan, the Deschutes County district attorney.

Stevenson, 44, declined to comment on the charges. Seana Ash, Stevenson's attorney, said Stevenson is planning on pleading not guilty to the charges. A plea date was set for Nov. 3.

”The allegations are easy to make,” Ash said after the arraignment. ”He is looking forward to having his side heard in court and being exonerated.”

Under Oregon law, second-degree sex abuse involves sexual intercourse or penetration without consent of the victim. Sex abuse in the third degree involves non-consenting sexual contact.

During Stevenson's arraignment, Ash told Circuit Court Judge Alta Brady that the Bend doctor has been cooperating with investigators for the last six months. Brady set his bail at $25,000.

Stevenson was booked and released at the Deschutes County Jail.

The doctor has been licensed to practice medicine in Oregon since January 2000. He has also practiced in Colorado and Washington. He graduated from medical school at the University of California-San Diego.

No one has ever filed a complaint against the physician in Colorado or Washington, according to the states' medical boards.

In Oregon, Stevenson's license is unrestricted as of now, according to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners (BME). An unrestricted license means that the board has put no limitations on his practice.

Gary Stafford, BME chief investigator, said the board is aware of the investigation and is monitoring its progress.

Oregon law prevents Stafford from saying whether complaints have been filed against Stevenson in this case. In general, Stafford said, the board reviews any criminal charges against its licensees. Whether the board conducts an investigation depends on the charges, he said.

Todd Sprague, spokesman for St. Charles Medical Center, said Stevenson did lose his medical staff privileges at hospital - meaning that he can't admit patients - almost a year ago. He is not on the hospital's medical staff now.

”There are a wide range of reasons doctors can lose staff privileges,” Sprague said. Those reasons, he said, range from issues related to clinical practice and quality standards, staff code conduct or health-related problems that would prevent a physician from practicing.

Sprague could not say why Stevenson lost his privileges.

The doctor, Ash told the court, is not currently practicing.

Previously, Stevenson operated the Women's Center of Bend, which opened in 2001, according to the secretary of state's office. The clinic is closed.

Stevenson has also worked for the East Cascade Women's Center in Bend. Cindy Tarrant, the clinic's office manager, said she could not say why the physician left or how long he worked there.

Kelly Kearsley can be reached at 541-383-0348 or kkearsley@bendbulletin.com . Lisa Rosetta can be reached at 541-617-7812 or lrosetta@bendbulletin.com .

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The La Grande Observer
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