There have been many articles in the media written about the decision. To date, only one journalist has reached out to me for comment and decided to focus on smut rather than the loss of my license. In the interest of a more important conversation I am making the following statement:
The lies and fear campaign of one woman:
In June of 2017, my friend, Sarah Edmondson called friends, clients and even the families of friends to say, something so terrible is happening [I can’t say what], but it’s so bad you have to get out. She gave few facts and provided no real issues, only fear. Eventually, this turned into rumors of “sex assignments” and “human branding” within the organization (Megyn Kelly Today, 5:36). Sarah and others de-enrolled 140+ clients of NXIVM, causing an estimated $1.4 million in damages, according to a then-member of the NXIVM executive board. For this, she was facing possible fraud charges.
July 7th, 2017, perhaps to take the heat off of herself, she brought her complaint to the OPMC claiming her consensual receipt of a brand was gross medical misconduct. After her request was denied, the actress turned to her resources in the media.
On October 17, 2017, The New York Times published an article, entitled “Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded.” she claimed her participation [in the initiation] was non-consensual, that she “thought it [the brand] was going to be a small tattoo,” that “for hours muffled screams… filled the room,” that she “wept the whole time.”
she told ABC News in a 20/20 interview (video, 1:00) “it was worse than childbirth … imagine a hot laser, dragged across your flesh for 30 minutes without anesthetic.”
She claimed “she may have dissociated out of her body” (her book Scarred, pg. 15 and The New York Times Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded). All of the above are lies, and I have the video to prove it. She knew about the brand before she joined, it was protocol, and testified to in court (Trial Transcript, pg. 1718). I was invited the same way. She didn’t scream once. She breathed deeply for what was approximately one minute and thirty seconds of pen-to-skin time. She made fart jokes and bragged about “being warrior bitches”… getting a brand after her Hallmark audition the day before.
She cried (what appeared to be) genuine tears of gratitude as she thanked Ms. Lauren Salzman for inviting her both midway through and at the end. She emphasized “this is so important” and she thanked me and said it looked great.
And yet, each media outlet bought her crafted story and supported this grown woman’s (39 at the time) sob story without thorough fact-checking or even questioning her.
Political and Media Involvement:
In 2017 NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided to “influence” the medical commissioner to prosecute this matter after the OPMC had rendered a written decision to the contrary. When Sarah Edmondson brought her claims to the OPMC in 2017, they issued a written statement concluding that “[T]he issues you [Ms. Edmondson] describe did not occur within the doctor-patient relationship… The issues you describe are not medical conduct… and no further action will be taken.” They also encouraged her to take this matter to the criminal authorities if she felt this act was violent or criminal in nature. When she did, this claim was also denied (see New York Times article “Complaints About Branding Inside Secretive Group Are Under Review”).
Instead of stopping this ridiculous allegation there, the Governor and the OPMC buckled under the pressure of the media. As a result, my license has been under investigation for the past 4 years for actions that have nothing to do with the practice of medicine.
Not the Practice of Medicine:
The art of branding is done all over the county by non-medical tattoo artists and fraternity members in tattoo parlors and frat houses, respectively. There are no licenses required to practice branding in the state of NY. Therefore, I was not leaning on my medical license for scope. There was no patient-physician relationship. It was unknown to the women who would be helping them with their brands until they arrived. There were no monies exchanged, or insurances billed. In fact, billing codes for branding don’t even exist. It is not taught in medical school and there are no courses or fellowships that so much as mention it. I was taught by the nation’s leading body modification artist – not a doctor. But, perhaps most importantly, it does not meet the medical-legal definition for the practice of medicine as clearly outlined in Section 6251, NY Education Law entitled “Definition of Practice of Medicine”:
“The practice of the profession of medicine is defined as diagnosing, treating, operating or prescribing for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition.”
Can someone please tell me what disease, pain, injury, deformity or condition I was treating?
My hard-earned medical license was taken away for actions taken between consenting adults outside the practice of medicine. I have never so much as had one complaint from an actual patient of mine.
Three board members were chosen (by a board that hires/fires them, who are hired/fired by the Medical Commissioner, who is now hired/fired by the Governor [Cuomo]) to evaluate the legitimacy of my case and determine my competence. It is not their job to protect consenting adults from the consequences of their decisions as in the case of Sarah Edmonson. It is, however, their job to distinguish medical practice from personal endeavor. Unless, of course, we want government agencies to dictate to us what we can and can not do in our personal lives, just as our parents did when we were 15.
They were way outside their scope.
The board’s lack of judgement, discernment and morality are a matter of great concern for me (and should be for all of us). If boards, political offices and news outlets are run by individuals who have not exercised and refined these skills then we run the risk of accepting oppression and coercion under the guise of security and protection.
Nowhere was it proven that I hurt a single patient, or was grossly neglectful, or gave a patient bad medical treatment, or even misdiagnosed someone. This is the realm where a doctor should be evaluated. Not their belief system, their religion, or their non-medical life. I was stripped of my hard-earned medical license, not because of my failures as a doctor (as I have never, in my entire career, received one malpractice complaint from a single patient or colleague), but because of my personal beliefs and activities outside the practice of medicine. It took merely one friend (not a patient, not a colleague) complaining, retroactively, about something she not only consented to, but celebrated at the time, to destroy fifteen years of my hard work and ten additional years of dedicated and faithful service.
The ruling in my case ultimately says that physicians must live their lives, both personal and professional, in a way that the OPMC approves of. Frighteningly, it requires a retroactive evaluation by the OPMC to determine that a physician’s personal conduct violated their unspecified and undisclosed code. This historic decision grants power to administrative occupational boards to peer into a physician’s personal life and revoke their license(s) for consensual actions taken in “privacy”. If this is allowed, even once, by any of us… kiss your civil liberties goodbye.
The OPMC released a 58-page justification for their decision. I will address the issues in this justification one by one in coming statements. For now, I’m continuing to evaluate what it means about the rights of all medical practitioners, and all of us as humans, that this was allowed in the United States.
I was stripped of my medical license as a result of a fear campaign incited by one woman willing to lie, the careless and fervent appetite of our culture for gossip, the lack of integrity and rigor of our media to fact check, and the moral weakness of our political leaders and elected court officials.
I will appeal this decision, not just for me, but for all of us.
Please contact me if you’d like to help.