Mail Tribune (Medford)
Psychiatrist regretful for vandalizing trails, looks to reconstitute practice
By Teresa Ristow
Jan 4, 2014
Jackson Tyler Dempsey, 58, was charged in August 2012 with fourth-degree assault and two counts of recklessly endangering another person after he admitted to stringing nylon cord and laying nails and vegetation across trails in the Ashland watershed in summer 2012.
Dempsey told a Forest Service arresting officer that he vandalized the trails because he “did not like mountain bikers,” according to a Forest Service report.
Dempsey said he apologizes for any harm he caused to his family and the victims that have come forward with injuries.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” said Dempsey. “It was never my intention to hurt anyone.”
Dempsey pleaded no contest to his charges in May 2013 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which he served as house arrest. He was ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution and serve two years of probation, which includes staying off the trails in the Ashland watershed.
Dempsey recently declined to comment on what his intentions were while he was in the watershed, but said he regretted his actions.
“I’m very regretful of what I put people through. It was quite difficult and very stressful for me and my family,” said Dempsey. “I think I’ll leave it at that — that it was never my intention to harm anyone.”
Dempsey’s wife, Christina Bagi, said Dempsey has paid a high price for his actions.
“He’s a good person that made a mistake. He tried to own up to that mistake as soon as he could. He took responsibility and he’s paid a really high price,” said Bagi.
Bagi said Dempsey’s intentions were to have mountain bikers slow down when sharing trails with hikers.
“He wanted [mountain bikers] to have to deal with an impediment, but he never wanted to hurt anybody. He was really, truly heartsick to realize that anyone could get hurt or did get hurt.”
Bagi said she and Dempsey tried to mediate with members of the mountain biking community, but the legal process would not allow direct communication with them.
“He had always hoped to communicate how sorry he was from the whole beginning of the process,” she said.
Part of the restitution Dempsey was ordered to pay was given to former Ashland resident Jordan Daniels, who said he struck a nylon cord placed across a trail at neck level during a ride down an unauthorized watershed trail in summer 2012.
Daniels was wearing a protective neck brace that may have prevented serious injury, but his bike frame was destroyed from hitting a tree.
He didn’t receive medical attention for his injuries, but instead Daniels was given restitution for the damage to his bike, he said.
The Oregon Medical Board reviewed Dempsey’s case at its meeting in fall 2013, and while it called his actions “dishonorable” and “detrimental to the community,” the board chose not to suspend or revoke Dempsey’s medical license.
The Oregon Medical Board said Dempsey violated the Principals of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association, which state “a physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health.”
Although the board could have revoked Dempsey’s license and fined him up to $10,000, it instead decided in October to only reprimand him and order that he be seen by a healthcare provider regularly, who will report on Dempsey’s health to the board.
By accepting the OMB’s order, Dempsey waived his right to any further hearing, the order states.
A former psychiatrist for Jackson County Mental Health, Dempsey left his employment there in October 2012, though county officials declined to elaborate on the circumstances.
Dempsey said he picked up work in Grants Pass running his own practice, Practical Psychology, a few months ago.
“I think I’ve been appropriately punished and I’m glad to be working again,” Dempsey said.
Bagi said Dempsey genuinely cares for his patients and is thankful to be practicing again.
“He really has so much compassion and care for his patients,” said Bagi. “He’s really grateful that he’s able to continue to work and build a practice.”