West Linn doctor accused of abuse sues to keep records shut
A battle over the disclosure of records is taking place in the high-profile lawsuit against West Linn doctor David Farley.
In this case, the battle is between Farley — he's currently under investigation and facing a lawsuit for decades of alleged sexual abuse — the lawyer representing dozens of his former patients, the Oregon Attorney General's Office and the Oregon Medical Board.
The doctor, David Farley, filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court last month to prevent the disclosure of OMB's investigative records. Meanwhile, local lawyer Tom D'Amore (who is representing the victims with California-based attorney John Manly) is pushing back on decisions by OMB and the AG's office to limit the records disclosed as part of the case.
After 30 years of practicing in Oregon, chiefly at the West Linn Family Health Center, Farley had his license revoked by the OMB in October 2020. One month later, four women sued the family medicine doctor for alleged sexual assaults. Twenty-nine women have now joined the lawsuit, with more expected to add their names in coming weeks.
The West Linn Police Department launched an investigation into claims against Farley following the filing of the lawsuit, though no charges have been filed.
After abruptly announcing his retirement from the West Linn Family Health Center in August of last year, Farley relocated to St. Anthony, Idaho.
To aid in the suit against Farley, D'Amore requested records from the OMB related to its investigation of the doctor and the subsequent suspension and revocation of his license.
The OMB was first prepared to release only some of these documents, including Farley's malpractice history, licensing and renewal applications, and the public orders that resulted from OMB's investigation. D'Amore appealed to the Oregon Attorney General's office, asking the office to compel OMB to release more documents such as the initial complaint to OMB, administrative records about OMB's investigation, administrative correspondence with Farley, witnesses and consultants, subpoenas and other records requests, Farley's patient records, the investigative case report and Farley's testimony and other information he submitted for OMB's investigation.
After its review of the documents and D'Amore's arguments for disclosure of these documents, the AG's office decided that only Farley's written and oral testimony should be disclosed along with what OMB had already agreed to release. The AG's office upheld the OMB's decision to deny releasing other documents D'Amore requested.
"Given the special position of trust vested in him by virtue of his Oregon medical license, we recognize that the public has a legitimate and significant interest in the disclosure of public records that may shed light on the nature and scope of his misconduct," Assistant Attorney General Frederick Boss wrote in his Dec. 4 response to D'Amore and the OMB.
According to Boss, the other records D'Amore suggested would not significantly contribute to the public's understanding of the case.
Less than a week after the AG's office gave its opinion, Farley filed a lawsuit of his own against Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, the OMB and D'Amore.
Farley's lawsuit claims the AG's office erred in its decision and that the records are exempt from disclosure according to certain Oregon public records statutes.
In response to Farley's lawsuit, Senior Assistant Attorney General Tracy Ickes White, representing both the AG's office and the OMB, rejected the statute interpretations of Farley's lawyers, defending the AG's decision.
"The public interest in disclosure of the Records at issue outweighs other interests in
nondisclosure, including but not limited to the public interest in nondisclosure," White wrote.
D'Amore's colleague Sean Stokes responded to the lawsuit on D'Amore's behalf, defending the AG's decision to disclose certain OMB materials but imploring the court to order disclosure of other materials D'Amore originally requested.
"The OMB is not a repository for concealing criminal conduct of doctors and certainly not sexual abuse of patients by doctors," Stokes wrote.
Stokes further argued that because OMB is a public body, the records it creates and obtains during the course of its investigations are public records. While he noted that state statutes offer some protection guarding information revealed during such investigations, Stokes maintained that protected records can and should be released when public interest in disclosure outweighs the arguments for nondisclosure.
"In instances that involve serial criminal conduct against literally hundreds of female members of the public, the need for disclosure to the public is overwhelming and clearly in the public interest," Stokes wrote.
Stokes also argued that "Farley has no valid privacy interest in this matter," because of the substantial publicity this matter has already received.
"Medical licensees take solemn oaths of duty. In return, they receive public confidence, which allows them to learn intimate details of their patient's lives so that they may properly advise on personal, private, and often embarrassing matters," Stokes wrote. "When physician conduct runs counter to that promise, especially on a grand scale as in this case, the interest in public awareness greatly trumps any concern for the physician's privacy. When, as here, that public trust is manipulated and used for the licensee's prurient desire, the licensee's privacy right as to that conduct is entirely destroyed."
All parties in the lawsuit agreed to a hearing regarding the merits of Farley's suit. The hearing is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. Jan. 28. Farley's lawyer, Janet Schroer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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