After 20 years of escaping justice, a Miami doctor who allegedly sexually abused his vulnerable HIV-positive patients has finally been convicted.
Homer L. Kirkpatrick, Jr., whose brand of bad medicine earned him the moniker "Doctor Scumbag" in South Beach during the mid 1990s, pleaded guilty earlier this month to forcible sodomy in Virginia. But the father of Kirkpatrick's latest victim says his 5-year suspended sentence is still no where severe enough.
"I'd love to see him go to jail," says Donald White. "That's what he deserves, not just for what he's done to my son but what he's done to other people."
As New Times reported in December, Kirkpatrick fled with his family to Virginia in 1995. He left behind a long list of HIV patients who claimed that he had preyed upon them, even exchanging sex for antiretroviral medicines:
For patients such as Ezekiel Lugo, a 39-year-old father who'd contracted HIV from drug use, Kirkpatrick's clinic on Douglas Road was their only option.
Lugo said Kirkpatrick began abusing him almost immediately. The doctor lingered over rectal exams, asking Lugo if he was sexually aroused and making jokes about masturbation. The abuse escalated in 1992 when Lugo wound up at Mercy Hospital, where Kirkpatrick saw patients. Lugo claimed the doctor came into his room late at night to demand a semen sample. When Lugo couldn't provide one, Kirkpatrick stimulated him to ejaculation.
Then, in June 1994, Lugo was admitted to the Miami Heart Institute in Miami Beach for heart surgery. "I remember it was about 11:30, 12 that evening," Lugo told New Times. "I woke up to find [Kirkpatrick] under the bed sheet. And he was doing oral sex to me. I pushed him away and he went to the bathroom, sprayed something in his mouth, and turned around. He came back like nothing had happened."
In Virginia, Kirkpatrick hid his dark past by attributing his early retirement to Alzheimer's and hurricanes. He started going by "Pat." When one of his daughters married White's brother, they became family. But his behavior was secretly the same as before.
On July 2 of this year, Kirkpatrick pleaded guilty to sodomy against a helpless victim for forcing himself onto White's then-teenage son. He was handed a suspended five-year sentence and a year of probation.
"He basically just got slapped on the hand," says White, whose name New Times agreed to change in order to protect his son's identity. "I'm a little aggravated."
"But he had a squeaky clean record," White says, since the Miami allegations weren't factored into his punishment. "The prosecutors said he didn't have so much as a speeding ticket. That's why they had to do what they did. By going to trial there was a risk that he would be found innocent."
The plea agreement, although lenient, ensures that Kirkpatrick's shameful past is out in the open. It might also give other victims in Virginia the strength to speak up.
"The only good thing about it is that he's on the sex offender list," White says. "The suspended sentence means if he messes up or anyone else comes forward, then he's got all kinds of problems."
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A permanent restraining order means that Kirkpatrick can't come anywhere near the Whites.
White says the case had split the community in rural Mecklenburg County, Virginia. But now that Kirkpatrick has finally pleaded guilty, the bad doctor can no longer hide his record of abuse.
"I think Homer is pretty much well done as far as the public eye goes," says White. "He was so squeaky clean but he's not getting away with it any longer."