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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Board drops charges against Ob-Gyn

Carla K. Johnson Staff writer

Washington state’s medical board dismissed charges last week against a Spokane obstetrician-gynecologist accused of sexually touching two patients during exams.

During a hearing on the charges last week in Tumwater, Wash., expert medical witnesses agreed that palpating, or touching, a woman’s clitoris and surrounding area is part of an accepted pelvic examination.

Two patients had complained to the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, the state’s medical licensing and disciplinary board, that Dr. James H. Watts III had touched them sexually during exams. The board filed charges Aug. 27, 2003.

“This is a complete vindication,” said attorney Mark Vovos, who represented Watts. “All charges are dismissed, period. These charges, unfortunately, just never should have been brought.”

The patients misinterpreted Watts’ examination, Vovos said.

Watts has been a licensed doctor in Washington since 1973. He is a partner in Spokane Obstetrics and Gynecology with offices on the South Hill and in Spokane Valley.

In written findings filed with the dismissal of the charges, the medical board said that one patient “appeared young and naïve and her perception of sexual gratification by Dr. Watts during the examination was not credible.”

The second patient “was credible in her testimony of her perception that Dr. Watts rubbed her clitoris during her pelvic examination,” the board wrote in its findings.

The board wrote that Watts “did not adequately establish a rapport with the (second) patient and failed to adequately communicate the steps and purpose of the examination resulting in the patient feeling psychologically and sexually violated.”

The patients’ identities are kept secret because of state laws protecting whistleblowers and patient privacy.

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