by Max Brantley
Interesting report on the non-jury trial in Fayetteville of a doctor, Bryan Abernathy, accused of threatening a woman if she didn't have sex with him during an office visit. The 40/29 report indicates the sole misdemeanor threat charge was dismissed by the judge after some sure-to-be-debated testimony. The 28-year-old woman took a tape recorder into the doctor's office and said she found bedding on an x-ray table when she met with the doctor alone.
In the recording, the woman tells the doctor she is nervous, and he offers her a beer. He also suggests they get naked to relax and offers to perform oral sex on her.The woman told the prosecutor she has been Abernathy's patient since she was 16. In the recording, Abernathy tells her he has found her attractive for 10 years. He also threatens to kill her if she tells anyone.
The defense? A she-asked-for-it suggestion from Abernathy's lawyer, W.H. Taylor, who asked the woman how she dressed to visit the doctor after a divorce.
"Did you ever wear what was commonly called your push up bra?" Taylor said. " Did you ever go to the doctor's office in a miniskirt with your buttcheeks showing?"
In acquitting Abernathy, Judge Randall Wright, sitting on special assignment because judges in Washington County wouldn't hear the case, said he didn't think a real threat had been made and that Abernathy was joking.
Abernathy's license was suspended by the state Medical Board after his arrest in 2010, but the Board website shows him on revoked/stayed status, as of June 13. That means his license will not be revoked as long as he meets conditions set by the Board. Presumably, no happy hours in the examination room. 40/29 had reported earliera police account that other women had accused Abernathy of offering prescription drugs in return for sexual favors. UPDATE: A Medical Board spokesman said Abernathy was in a five-year probationary period including therapy programs and working a limited amount in a group setting and would not return to clinical practice until a lengthy list of conditions were met.