Plastic surgeon Richard B. Edison is a dubious doctor who has been hit with a lot of life-altering allegations over the years.
Five patients at the medical facility he directs in Hollywood have died after routine cosmetic surgeries during the past 11 years, three of them under Edison's own knife.
One woman, after being disfigured during a face-lift there, tried to kill herself by driving into a canal. The 56-year-old Edison once left a medical sponge in a woman's breast and claimed the patient had placed it there herself, prompting the victim to call Edison an "unbelievable human being" who needed to be "squashed like a bug."
Edison's transgressions haven't all been medical. In 1998, he pleaded no contest to a Hollywood Police charge of soliciting a prostitute.
Edison, a married father of two, has survived the allegations and continues to practice medicine, specializing in reconstructive surgery.
But the newest accusation, coming deep from Edison's past, might be the most damning of all. A Massachusetts man filed a lawsuit in January that alleges Edison molested him when he was a child over a period of two years beginning in 1974. At the time, Edison was in his 20s and a student at University of Massachusetts Medical School. His accuser, Tim Clark, was an 11-year-old boy.
Clark contends Edison, whose attorney denies the allegation, befriended him and would take him to his apartment, where he would give him marijuana and sometimes beer before sexually assaulting him. The scene repeated numerous times over the next two years, Clark claims. Even after Clark's mother moved him to two different apartment complexes, Edison would show up and the abusive routine would start up again, Clark contends.
Clark's attorney, Stephen J. Gordon, filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts in January alleging Clark first met Edison because he was drawn to the med-school student's souped-up Oldsmobile Cutlass. He asserts Edison gave him a ride and then invited him up to his third-floor apartment for ice cream. Soon Edison was letting him drive. "I liked driving the car, and he liked me sitting on his lap," Clark maintains. "Then he would invite me to his apartment and he would put the TV on, and he liked me to watch The Three Stooges with him.
"One day, he asked if he could give me a 'crusher.' I asked what a crusher was, and he said, 'Don't you watch wrestling?' Then he started jumping on me."
Clark claims the physical relationship progressed into a bizarre and disturbing ritual. Edison would suggest they smoke a joint and then begin to give him another crusher. The wrestling would turn sexual, Clark asserts, with Edison taking out his penis and rubbing himself against the child until he ejaculated, often while sucking on the boy's toes.
The routine was usually devoid of penetration, though Clark maintains that Edison, under the guise of being a doctor in training, would at times inspect him with a small flashlight, which he at times put in the boy's rectum.
Clark says he looked up to Edison as a father figure. "He told me that his father had a lot of money and that when he became a doctor, he would buy me a bicycle and other things," Clark alleges. "When I look back, I see a conniving guy who found a vulnerable kid and clearly took advantage of him."
He accuses Edison of threatening to harm his mother if she were to find out. She never knew about the sexual abuse, Clark says. The final straw came when another boy became involved and told his mother, who in turn contacted Clark's mom. At that point, she filed a criminal misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace against Edison.
Clark says the rest of his young adulthood was wrecked by the experience, until he became sober in 1994, about a year after he met his wife. "I really got robbed of my childhood," says Clark, who now runs a small automobile business in Massachusetts.
He says he had blocked Edison from his mind until a recent visit to the gravesite of his mother, who died in 2001. "I was sitting there reminiscing and... it all rushed back to me like it was yesterday," Clark says. "I went home and looked my wife in the face and said, 'I need to talk to you.' I told her what had happened... I decided that I was going to finish this."
Edison declined to comment, but his attorney, Stephen Cohen, says the lawsuit is an "unmitigated lie... There is absolutely no truth to this."
Adds Cohen: "There may be criminal conduct on the other side, in the area of extortion. As it goes forward, perhaps perjury as well."
Clark has strong evidence to back his case, most important the court record in the civil disobedience case, obtained by New Times, showing his mother indeed had Edison charged.
"For one year after that [charge was filed], there was nothing but court supervision over Dr. Edison," Cohen says. "What happened after that is that the charge was thrown out, and there was nothing done."
To help piece together his past, Clark hired a private investigator named John Lajoie, who found the court record and several witnesses who confirm Edison spent a lot of time with the young Clark and gave him marijuana and beer. None witnessed the alleged sexual assaults, but Lajoie says some will testify Edison would take Clark off alone, at times into his locked bedroom.
Lajoie says Clark passed a polygraph. "He's telling the truth," the PI concludes, "not only on the sexual abuse but on the dormant memory recovery and the trigger event [at his mother's gravesite]."
There is also the matter of the 1998 prostitution charge, one of "moral turpitude," as Lajoie calls it. But the specifics aren't known because Edison had the case expunged. "What basis does that have in [Clark's] complaint?" Cohen asks. "None."
There is no known evidence to show Edison has sexually abused any other children, but his professional life has been marked by controversy, much of it reported by daily newspapers.
The Sun-Sentinel revealed five patients had died between 1997 and 2004 after routines surgeries — tummy tucks, face-lifts, and liposuction — at Edison's medical facility, Cosmetic Surgery PA, on Stirling Road in Hollywood.
The Miami Herald in 2002 reported two malpractice lawsuits for which Edison had to pay large judgments, one of them for leaving the sponge in a woman's breast and the other for giving a patient breast implants too large for her body.
In 1995, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued a "letter of concern" regarding his work and fined him. In 2007, the Florida Board of Medicine suspended Edison from practicing for 30 days, fined him $10,000, and placed him on two years of probation.
Last year, he voluntarily surrendered his medical license in California. Edison has managed to keep his Florida license and has also retained his membership in the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
Clark promises he won't stop until the doctor pays for what he has done. "It's painful right now; it has been a long year," he says. "I didn't sleep for months. I've got two children, I'm a businessman, and it's the last thing I want to stir up. But it's in front of me now, and I'm not going away."
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.