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[whitespace] Physician accused of sexual assault involving female patient in prison

Suspect is a longtime resident of Saratoga

Saratoga--An inmate in the California prison system is suing a physician, who lives in Saratoga, for allegedly sexually assaulting her during a medical examination.

Dr. Robert A. Bowman, 66, already faces criminal charges filed in July 2000, on behalf of Lisa Williams--who filed the civil suit--and two other inmates, who accuse Bowman of sexual misconduct. Bowman is set for a preliminary hearing on the criminal charges in Madera County Court on April 2. Williams' civil suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Jose on March 15.

Bowman worked as a physician at the Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla, until he was placed on administrative leave in March 2000. Prison officials took the action after receiving complaints about Bowman from inmates.

In both the criminal and civil cases, Williams claims that Bowman performed inappropriate pelvic and breast examinations on her in the infirmary at the Chowchilla prison between October 1999 and March 2000. She also alleges he made sexual remarks and advances and attempted forcible oral copulation.

Gina Barsotti, the Madera County supervising deputy district attorney who is handling the case, said she could not comment on it until the preliminary hearing.

Prison Law Office Director Donald Specter, who is handling the civil case against Bowman, said his client wished "to be compensated for the harm that was caused by Dr. Bowman." The amount of compensation has not been disclosed, according to Williams' attorney Shana Margolis of the San Francisco law firm of Rosen, Bien and Asaro.

The law firm is serving as the co-counsel with the Prison Law Office. Specter said the Prison Law Office--a San Quentin-based advocacy group--was working with evidence gathered by Madera County prosecutors.

After Bowman was charged in July, he was freed on his own recognizance, according to his attorney, Robert D. Wilkinson of Fresno. Until this past fall, Bowman was treating prisoners in Santa Clara County. He provided orthopedic services at the county jail in Milpitas for nearly seven years, as part of Adult Custody Health Services administered by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, according to Matt Schenone, communications specialist with the medical center.

But in October, a Prison Law Office attorney informed Santa Clara County correctional officials that Bowman had been charged in Madera County. The county immediately put Bowman on a leave of absence, according to Mark Cursi, public information officer for the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections.

Bowman still can practice medicine in California, but his license had certain restrictions applied to it in September by the California Medical Board, according to Cindie Kouza, management services technician for the board. The restrictions state that a third party must be present when Bowman is treating a female patient. Also, Bowman is prohibited from conducting inspections, or treatment, of a female's "intimate body areas." Wilkinson said that Bowman is not currently practicing medicine.

"If there's a felony conviction, then the board will take immediate action," Kouza said.

A 30-year resident of Saratoga, Bowman has been an orthopedic and family practice physician for 40 years. He raised his children in Saratoga.

Through his attorney, Bowman has repeatedly denied all allegations made against him. In a statement issued through Wilkinson last week, Bowman said, "I'm deeply saddened by the false accusations that have been made against me by people I sought to help."
Oakley Brooks

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Web extra to the March 29-April 4, 2001 issue of Metro.

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