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Medical board delays hearing in Matulis case

For the second time, a West Virginia Board of Medicine disciplinary hearing for a Charleston doctor accused of sexually assaulting patients has been delayed because of anticipated criminal proceedings involving the doctor.

The board’s hearing for Dr. Steven Matulis was set to begin Wednesday morning, but Matulis filed a motion on Sept. 8 to delay the hearing, according to an order issued by Herschel H. Rose III, the hearing examiner in the case.

Per Rose’s order, Matulis said the disciplinary hearing would hurt his ability to defend himself against criminal charges, because the public hearing would make additional evidence against him available to prosecutors. Matulis also said his counsel told him that Kanawha County prosecutors plan to present evidence against him to a grand jury “in the near future.”

Rose said in the order it was unfair for Matulis to have waited until the last minute to ask for a delay in the hearing, but he found Matulis’ argument good enough to reschedule the hearing. A new date has not been set.

Matulis’ attorneys are to keep Board of Medicine members informed about the status of the criminal proceedings, so the board’s disciplinary hearing can be rescheduled “after the criminal process is concluded,” Rose said in the order. But if that doesn’t happen before Dec. 31, both sides were ordered to submit dates for a disciplinary hearing in January 2018.

Matulis’ disciplinary hearing originally was set for June, but was delayed until September. The doctor voluntarily changed his medical license to inactive in May 2016 amid the initial sexual assault investigation.

Former patients of Matulis sued the doctor after allegations that he assaulted patients while they were under anesthesia during colonoscopy procedure at Charleston Area Medical Center. Some patients say they don’t know whether they were victims of sexual assault, and can’t know if their colonoscopies and diagnoses were reliable.

One patient in one of the lawsuits said about a week after her colonoscopy, she was informed by Charleston Police officers that she had been sexually assaulted. At least one patient says that not knowing whether an assault occurred has created substantial concern and distress, leading her to seek treatment from a counselor for emotional and mental distress.

Reach Lacie Pierson at 304-348-1723, or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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