The Fairfield Wives

Dr. John Parkinson, a civic and religious leader in the perfectly suburban town of Fairfield, told women they needed pelvic exams. Long exams. Several times a week. For years. And they believed him.

The men responded with complete disbelief. Rasmussen was accusing Parkinson of extraordinarily bad medical practices and sexual molestation. It was unthinkable that someone of Parkinson's stature would be guilty of either. Besides, they all knew him. They had known him for years. He was a leader in the church. He was one of them.

Madsen, in particular, was angry. He challenged Rasmussen to confront Parkinson with her allegations. Rasmussen refused. Instead, she sent a message through Madsen to Parkinson: "Free my people."

No one ever uttered a bad word about MaryLynn Parkinson. People describe her as warm, friendly, vivacious, and fun, as outgoing as her husband was shy. She taught high school for years in Fairfield, and everyone seemed to know her. She was married to John Parkinson for 39 of her 60 years. She died of breast cancer on Sept. 16, 1992.

Upon her death, Parkinson began to behave strangely and make odd, conspiratorial allegations about people he considered to be his enemies. First, he arranged for security guards at MaryLynn's funeral. (He told Fairfield Police that he hired the guards because he'd been the subject of a campaign of stalking and harassment orchestrated by Rasmussen, her husband, and their friends.)

Later that month, Parkinson told police people had been following him from his office, around town, and to his home during the past four or five months because of a disagreement at church. Parkinson believed different people would pick up his trail through various parts of town, and all of this tailing, coordinated through electronic communications equipment, was led by Paul Rasmussen, who knew about such things.

Police surveillance turned up no such stalking conspiracy.
In December, Parkinson reported that the stalking had escalated, and as many as 100 people were following him around town. He also reported hearing footsteps on the roof of his office, which correlated with a break-in at Madsen's office across the breezeway. Police found shoe prints on the steel beams that cross an atrium/patio area in the medical building, and hand prints above a wooden bench. Two water and air hoses had been cut in Madsen's office, but nothing had been stolen.

In a letter memorializing the entire affair, Parkinson describes an incident that happened on the freeway on his way to work:

"While I was driving to work along a short section of freeway, my left front windshield was struck by a bullet fired from the rooftop of a building across the freeway. Fortunately, two months before, I had purchased a new car with extra thick, specially reinforced safety glass. The bullet left a small round hole in the first layer of my windshield, but thankfully did not penetrate the remainder of the glass. The windshield was examined by a ballistics expert who determined that the crater was not created by a rock, but by a bullet whose trajectory suggested that it was aimed at my chest. ... This incident ... gives a clear indication of the dangerous circumstances that surround me and of the viciousness of those who have created them."

The following April, with little fanfare and no initial public notice, Carolyn Windham, Geraldine Rasmussen's cousin, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Parkinson in Solano County Superior Court, alleging he had committed malpractice by performing unnecessary pelvic exams.

About a week later, Parkinson filed a lawsuit against Geraldine Rasmussen, Chance Williams, and a woman named Vicky Hardy, who didn't seem to have any connection to Parkinson or her fellow defendants. Parkinson alleged they had defamed him, based on what Rasmussen had said in her meeting with church leaders. The combination of these two lawsuits eventually made news in the Fairfield Daily Republic, kicking off a buzz throughout the community and the church.

Something else happened that same April, with little fanfare and little initial public notice: Dr. Parkinson married one of his patients -- Anne Aldrich, the sister about whose medical treatment Geraldine Rasmussen had been so concerned. Aldrich and her son, Matthew, moved into the Parkinson family home. They still live there.

Everett Gremminger carries the largest caseload in the state Medical Board's Office of Investigation. He's not a man who's easily ruffled.

A 20-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department, Gremminger is a decorated narcotics detective who spent an entire career chasing big-time drug thugs. He wears the look of a retired cop: tall, portly frame, graying hair, glasses, comfortably worn face; a guy who's been there and done that. He might be intimidating, were it not for the folksy manner he projects almost immediately on meeting. Gremminger joined the Medical Board after retiring his shield in 1989. His new job is calmer, but the workload is no lighter, and a lot of the cases make even less sense than drug deals gone sour.

Geraldine Rasmussen's complaint landed on Gremminger's desk because Gremmin-ger already knew John Parkinson, at least on paper.

Parkinson was on probation with the Medical Board of California for a 1990 incident. The state found that Parkinson had overtreated a patient who'd been injured in a car accident. (Parkinson maintains that he agreed to probation simply to settle the matter, because his first wife was ill and he was preoccupied with her care.)

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