John Parkinson, the Fairfield doctor and Mormon Church leader who lost his medical license for sexually abusing patients via lengthy, frequent, and repeated pelvic exams, is one step closer to prison, but his twisted legal case will make at least one more pass through the Solano County Courthouse.
California's First District Court of Appeals last week upheld Parkinson's 1997 conviction on 16 counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object and two counts of practicing medicine without a license. Parkinson appealed the conviction on the grounds that one of the jurors, who is a nurse, used her medical expertise with other jurors and disputed evidence presented on Parkinson's behalf during trial. The Court of Appeals found that jury deliberations were not tainted by the nurse's actions, and upheld the conviction.
But the Appeals Court directed Solano County Court to revisit an allegation that the same nurse and juror was biased against Parkinson because of an earlier clash with the doctor. The nurse had worked at a convalescent home in the mid-1980s where Parkinson saw patients; a co-worker now contends that the nurse disliked Parkinson and had had a “falling out” with the doctor.
“We felt there was sufficient evidence of prejudicial conduct to support a reversal in the appeal,” says Parkinson attorney George Cotsirilos.
A Solano County Superior Court judge will likely hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter this spring, and return the case to the Court of Appeals for a final ruling. “This is simply a procedural matter,” says Solano Deputy District Attorney John Kealy, who prosecuted Parkinson. “They need to have a hearing. I fully expected it.”
Parkinson's story, “The Fairfield Wives,” was documented in SF Weekly in August 1998. A former doctor and leader of the Mormon Church in Fairfield, Parkinson was first accused of molesting a patient in 1977. Those accusations went unheeded until another complaint sparked a California Medical Board investigation in 1992. Three years later, following the second-longest hearing in its history, the Medical Board revoked Parkinson's license after dozens of women – mainly church members – testified that Parkinson had performed excessive pelvic exams and bizarre chemotherapy regimes on them for years.
Then, in 1997, Parkinson was convicted in Solano criminal court for practicing without his license and abusing patients, and sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. The case divided Fairfield's Mormon community between supporters of Parkinson, who refused to believe the allegations, and those who backed his victims. As the criminal case wound its way through the courts, Parkinson settled 16 malpractice suits. He remains at home in Fairfield, on $300,000 bail, pending the outcome of his appeal.