By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Unwilling to be bribed or perhaps blackmailed, Jordan set about looking for another doctor. But his association with Kirkpatrick haunted him. For one thing, other AIDS doctors quizzed him about why he was leaving Kirkpatrick's care, and their questions hinted at some underlying suspicion. Jordan responded by claiming he and Kirkpatrick suffered a conflict of personalities. Despite that assertion, one doctor asked if he had read a certain article in an AIDS newsletter. Flustered, Jordan recalls replying, "Look, I haven't read any magazine. I'm here to get followup."
The "article" in question had appeared in the July issue of a newsletter published by the People With AIDS Coalition (PWAC), Dade's largest AIDS advocacy organization. Tucked away on the bottom of page six, amid stories about research grants, clinical trials, and new AIDS programs, was a startling item about an unnamed AIDS doctor. The headline: "Dear Doctor Scumbag -- -- Festering Pimple on the Face of the Medical Community Gets Popped."
"You know who you are," began the unsigned, four-paragraph open letter. "The one sexually abusing your patients. We have numerous complaints against you, however no one yet wants to have his name made public. Yet.
"Don't pretend you don't know who we're addressing. It's you -- the one who excessively fondles patients while making obscene suggestions, the one who masturbates his clients while giving a rectal exam, the one who tells his patient that he should masturbate more often. What kind of disgusting pleasure do you get out of intimidating those in need who come to you in trust?
"We will find one who will come forward to have his story told, and we have people to substantiate it. The AIDS community knows who you are. People are talking. Your patients are talking. Your sick little secret is out. Just how long did you think you could keep this repugnant activity quiet?"
The doctor's name was not divulged in the open letter, or in an article in the newsletter's next issue. J.D. Ramsay, managing editor of PWAC's newsletter and author of the open letter, refuses to identify "Doctor Scumbag" by name; doing so, he fears, could lead to legal action. (A Miami Police Department spokesman last month confirmed that Homer L. Kirkpatrick, Jr., a specialist in internal medicine, is the man referred to as Doctor Scumbag. "The Miami Police Department is investigating certain allegations against Dr. Kirkpatrick," said spokesman Ray Lang, who would not elaborate beyond pointing to "alleged sexual improprieties" that may have occurred during physical examinations. "We have interviewed several of his patients and taken statements from those patients. It's going to be up to the State Attorney's Office to determine if there are any charges filed." The department subsequently halted its investigation while the investigator for the Agency for Health Care Administration, Luis Collado, pursued the case.)
PWAC's Ramsay says he decided to print the allegations after three men came to the organization's Biscayne Boulevard office in May and June asking for help. None wanted to go public, however, leaving the People With AIDS Coalition in a quandary. "When the situation was described to me, it nauseated me," Ramsay recalls. "I sat down and said, 'How can I burn this into the public consciousness?' I've been accused of yellow journalism for that article. My retort to that is, 'How can you know that [this] is happening and not say anything?'" Ramsay hoped the message in his newsletter, which has a circulation of about 7000 and is closely read in the AIDS community, would prompt more patients to come forward. He got the response he wanted.
The second article was published in the August newsletter, this one a signed editorial by PWAC's president, Charles LaMar Hutchison. It was headlined "The Success That Made Me Sad." According to Hutchison, the coalition received an additional fourteen complaints following publication of the July open letter. "The case histories are infuriatingly similar," Hutchison wrote. "This is not a subject for sensationalism, but for extreme compassion and sensitivity, and one which the Coalition is trying to handle extremely confidentially. We do not want the victim who may decide to come forward to feel as if he has to fear the further embarrassment of unwanted publicity and prying into his personal life unless it is his decision to 'go public.'
"We at the Coalition completely empathize with how hard it is to overcome the abject shame of this kind of victimization, but without someone being strong enough, caring enough, yes, brave enough to come forward, it will continue to happen.
"I have been saddened to know that other [AIDS patients], social workers, case managers, AIDS service organizations, and even other physicians have known about these crimes, in some cases for years, and have -- for whatever reasons -- done nothing to stop this abhorrent, criminal situation."
Tony Diez-Tome, a clerk at the nonprofit organization Cure AIDS Now, admits he is one of those people who heard the stories but did nothing. Some of the doctor's patients were his friends, he says. When they told Diez-Tome about their experiences with the doctor, he urged them to file charges. "I just freaked," he recalls. "I said, 'Why don't you go forward?' And they said, 'No, I'd rather not.' You have to respect their decision."