The Seattle Times
PSYCHIATRIST HASSLED FOR PAST MISTAKES? — INVESTIGATION REACTIVATED AFTER WOMAN INQUIRES ABOUT SEXUAL-CONTACT COMPLAINT
By Peter Lewis
June 22, 1993
A Yakima psychiatrist, disciplined five years ago for inappropriate sexual contact with women patients, alleges the state Medical Disciplinary Board has bowed to political pressure and is hounding him for the same conduct for which he’s already been punished.
Lawyers for Dr. C. Donald Williams, who are asking a federal judge to halt what they claim is harassment of the doctor, say the board acted to take his license after U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., then a state lawmaker, intervened in the spring of 1991 on behalf of Penny Milczewski. She is one of four women with whom Williams admitted having sexual contact in a case settled in 1988.
Inslee says he has no apologies for what he says was a legitimate inquiry for a constituent trying to learn the status of her complaint against Williams.
“Frankly, I’m amazed to see an assertion of political pressure,” Inslee said.
But Williams’ lawyers point to Inslee’s intervention as the event that caused the board to re-activate its investigation. They don’t blame Inslee but fault the board for its reaction to his inquiries.
Kelly Corr, one of Williams’ lawyers, contends “it’s clear she (Milczewski) is obsessed with pursuing him (Williams) and she’s used political pressure to get the board to resurrect a stale complaint that the board’s chief investigator said was double jeopardy.”
Assistant state Attorney General Zimmie Caner, who represents the board, said the agency will deny the political-pressure allegation.
The state is pursuing Williams based on the quality of psychiatric care he provided Milczewski’s husband, John Milczewski. Williams treated both during the same period in the mid-1980s, Caner said.
The new charges were filed in February 1992. Caner said John Milczewski had not filed a complaint when the old charges were resolved in 1988.
Corr and David Goodnight, of the Seattle law firm of Bogle & Gates, contend there is no new misconduct, only a different person – John Milczewski – complaining about the same events for which Williams already has admitted wrongdoing.
In an affidavit filed Friday, Williams said:
“Over the last year and one-half, I have lived in fear of what the outcome might be, because I don’t trust the board to be impartial or above board anymore. . . . Even if I win this lawsuit, I worry about what they will do next.”
Williams noted that, among other costs, he has paid more than $80,000 in legal fees so far, and has been ostracized by medical groups.
Williams’ lawyers assert that other therapists and his current patients have said Williams is providing a valuable professional service.
They further contend Williams has a “perfect record” of compliance with 11 conditions imposed under the 1988 order that allowed him to continue practicing. Among other conditions, Williams must have another therapist present when he treats female patients; to undergo therapy; and to be evaluated by board-selected experts.
Williams’ lawyers are asking U.S. District Judge William Dwyer to block a June 30 disciplinary hearing, and to prevent the state from bringing up any related misconduct charges occurring before July 1988. Dwyer could rule based on papers submitted, or schedule a hearing this week.
In an interview, John Milczewski emphasized that he, too, was a patient of Williams and was harmed by him, becoming “totally depressed” and nearly suicidal.
John Milczewski, a middle-school teacher, denied that he or his wife, a therapist who has testified as an expert witness in child-abuse cases, is obsessed with the case.
“Dr. Williams would like people to believe something’s wrong with someone asking for a wrong to be righted,” John Milczewski said. “All we have asked is that the Medical Disciplinary Board assume their responsibility and act on a complaint.”
Following the 1988 disciplinary action, the Milczewskis filed separate medical-malpractice suits against Williams in Yakima County Superior Court. Each received about $ 75,000 to settle the cases.
John Milczewski said the only interaction he and his wife had with Inslee was to call his office to ask him to find out the status of his wife’s case.
John Milczewksi admitted the paper trail “may look like” political pressure was involved. “But I believe it was an appropriate use of legislative intervention of just asking a question.”
Said Inslee: “It appears from everything I’ve seen that what our office did was entirely appropriate and justified.”