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County doctor accused of exploiting patient

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Register Staff Writer

The district attorney has filed felony criminal charges against a former county health department staff psychiatrist, alleging he had a sexual relationship with a patient.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jeffrey Thomas Gray, 47, turned himself in to the court after a Napa County arrest warrant for him was issued earlier that day.

Superior Court Commissioner Kelly Boyd informed Gray that charges filed against him included one felony count of prescribing an illegal drug for a person who was not his patient, one felony count of possession of drugs without a prescription, one felony count of possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of child pornography and misdemeanor exploitation of a patient by a physician.

Gray pleaded innocent to all the counts.

At the request of the Attorney General's Office, Boyd also prohibited Gray from practicing medicine during the duration of his criminal proceedings.

For the past eight years Gray was employed by the Napa County Department of Human Health and Services as a psychiatrist.

Bruce Heid, department director, told the Register on Wednesday that as of about a month ago, Gray was no longer employed by the county.

Heid said he could not comment if Gray's job termination was related to the criminal charges because it is a personnel matter. He also declined to comment on Gray's criminal matter.

The allegations against Gray stem from a relationship between him and his client.

The girl was 16 when Gray, who was working for the county health department, began treating her for mental health problems. The alleged sexual relationship with the patient, which took place in Napa County, began when she was 21 and lasted from 2001 through 2003.

The law prohibits a physician from having a sexual relationship with a patient or a former patient when the professional relationship ended for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts unless the physician refers the patient to another independent and objective physician, which Gray did not do, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Boessenecker said.

Gray is also charged with prescribing Dexedrine for his fiancée who is not his patient, Boessenecker said. The drug is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

After serving a search warrant at Gray's east Napa home this week, sheriff's investigators found vicodin and temazapam drugs and confirmed Gray did not have a prescription to possess them, according to a sheriff's department press release. During an exam of Gray's home computer, detectives also uncovered numerous photographs they suspect to be child pornography, sheriff's Capt. Mike Loughran said.

The arrest warrant set the bail at $50,000.

At Wednesday's court hearing defense attorney Lael Kayfetz argued that bail should be reduced, stating her client had only found out about the arrest warrant that morning and already had turned himself in.

Kayfetz also told the court that the relationship between her client and the woman only lasted a few months.

"The complaining witness said it was a three-month long relationship. Her mother, who is currently seeking money from the county, said the relationship lasted past that time," Kayfetz said. "The police department chose to rely on the mother's rendition of the span of the relationship as opposed to the complaining witness."

Kayfetz also argued that Gray downloaded images on his computer of people he believed were over 18 and that he got them "from what he thought was a bona fide Web site."

Boessenecker reminded the court of the seriousness of allegations against Gray, saying, "At this point, we don't even know if there are any additional victims."

Commissioner Boyd reduced bail to $30,000.

Calling it a "bully move" by the Medical Board of California, Kayfetz asked the court not to suspend Gray's medical license because it would strip him of his livelihood. She also said any medical practice Gray would engage in would be under a "microscope" by the board.

Vivien Hara, state deputy attorney general, told Commissioner Boyd that Gray "exploited a patient and is a dangerous person to the public."

In the past, Gray has also provided private psychiatric care in Vacaville, the city of Napa and also worked as an on-call psychiatrist for St. Helena Hospital, according to the sheriff's department.

Anyone who has information about the investigation or had a relationship with Gray while under his care is asked to call sheriff's detective Jon Crawford at 253-4205 or 253-4591.




© 2005, Pulitzer Newspapers, Inc.







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