"I was shocked that he wasn't arrested," Cadigan says, adding he believes that Mercy Hospital protected the bad doctor. "Mercy was well aware of his activities and did nothing about it until a patient finally [reported] him."

Lugo also blamed the hospital in a suit against the doctor, Mercy, and the Miami Heart Institute. But Kirkpatrick's departure delayed the hearings, and Lugo died around 1998, according to Cadigan. The suit was dismissed shortly thereafter.

(A spokeswoman for Mercy said she could not comment on the case, in part because it happened so long ago.)

Homer L. Kirkpatrick faces a sodomy charge.
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Homer L. Kirkpatrick faces a sodomy charge.

Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, vanished, quietly packing up his family in 1995 — shortly after the state's report was released — and leaving town. A short while later, a family of five arrived in Bracey, Virginia, a town of 2,000 residents near the border with North Carolina. They settled into a house on Hemlock Lane, alongside windswept Gaston Lake.

There, Kirkpatrick quickly reinvented himself. He began calling himself Pat and told parishioners at the Ebony Assembly of God Church that Alzheimer's had forced him into retirement. He also claimed that a hurricane had destroyed his family's home in Miami.

Pastor Ralph Fletcher took a liking to Kirkpatrick, according to White. When Fletcher left in 2000 to found his own church, Kirkpatrick followed. It was at Fletcher's Emmanuel Worship Center that the Whites met Kirkpatrick. (Reached on the phone, Fletcher told New Times he had "no comment" on the ex-doctor's case.)

Then, when one of Kirkpatrick's daughters married White's brother, the two clans became family. But White never felt quite right about the retired doctor. Around 2007, Kirkpatrick began spending a lot of time with White's then-14-year-old son.

"At first it was at church; then it was camping trips, stuff like that," White says. "We started to notice a pattern. There were promises of cars, stuff like that." Kirkpatrick tried to turn his son against his parents, he claims, and the teen eventually moved out.

Finally, this fall, White says, he discovered letters from Kirkpatrick to his son. "Remember the good times that we had in the rest areas," one said. Another featured a stick-figure drawing of a little boy. "This is a good likeness of you," the letter said, "but it needs more emphasis on the crotch."

White filed a restraining order against Kirkpatrick. It split the family and stirred emotions and rumors in rural Mecklenburg County. Then, in August, the doctor's daughter, Stacie, called and asked to meet at Denny's.

After reading for himself about "Doctor Scumbag" in New Times, White called the cops. But not until they interviewed his son did White understand the extent of Kirkpatrick's abuse. The 18-year-old broke down, telling sheriffs that Kirkpatrick had repeatedly performed sex acts on him when he was a minor.

"My first thought was I want to choke the life out of him," White says. Instead, on November 19, Mecklenburg prosecutors charged Kirkpatrick with forcible sodomy. But the doctor had already fled to his in-laws' house in St. Petersburg, Florida. On November 21, roughly 20 years after reports about his predatory behavior first surfaced, St. Petersburg police placed Kirkpatrick in handcuffs.

His daughter has cooperated with investigators. She was reluctant to speak with New Times, but she was torn by the case. "It's gut-wrenching. I guess that would be a good way to put it," Stacie says. "My sisters and I were very young when we left Miami. We never knew anything about all this."

The 71-year-old Kirkpatrick remains in Pinellas County Jail awaiting extradition. Other victims have come forward alleging abuse by Kirkpatrick, according to Officer Chris Whittemore of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. But so far, no additional charges have been filed.

For former patients like Lugo, the doctor's arrest comes two decades too late. White believes his son's abuse could have been prevented if Florida authorities had arrested Kirkpatrick in 1995.

"I don't know how someone could get away with all that," White says. Miami and rural Virginia may be "two different worlds," he says, but ultimately they both failed his son.

"I think a lot of what protected Homer Kirkpatrick was that he had been a doctor. Who would think that a doctor with an alleged great reputation would ever do anything like this?"

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I think the State Attorney's office in Dade has always been more interested in prosecuting young, Black pot smokers than going after real crime.

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