August 24, 2003 5:35 PMI have always believed that we lived in a country where you were innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. Dr. Leonard began to be punished as soon as the media feeding frenzy started about the accusations being made against him. The continuing suspension of his license means that he is serving the most punitive sentence that the Board of Medical Examiners can hand down, despite the fact that he has not been found guilty of any crime, or even a lapse of professional judgment. The panel at the “temporary” suspension hearing that was so clearly biased against him admitted that there was no question about the quality of care that his patients receive.
As one of his grateful patients, I am being punished as well by being deprived of the compassionate and superb specialist who has helped me manage a painful neurological condition that rapidly spread throughout my body in 2001. If it were not for Dr. Leonard, I doubt I would be able to walk and work today. At no time during my frequent visits to him did I consider his actions to be any way offensive. On the contrary, I found him to be extraordinarily kind when I was at the lowest point of life. He always made my comfort level his priority. Even when the pain was somewhat being held at bay and I thought that I could be stoic and live with it, he told me that that wasn’t good enough for him. He gave me strength, not only from the excellent medical care he provided, but also from the genuine interest in took in my case and how to best ameliorate my symptoms.
I have been flabbergasted by the accusations that have been made. Dr Leonard was never so much as rude to me, let alone sexually abusive. Having served in the victim assistance field, I know that a sexual predator preys upon the vulnerable and the weak. I doubt that I could have been more vulnerable and weak than during some of my early office visits when this alien burning pain was taking control of my life. As the symptoms moved up my torso, he would have had the perfect excuse to take advantage of the situation and touch me inappropriately. It strains my credibility to even consider that he is a “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde”-type character. One cannot be an angel of mercy to a patient in one consulting room, and then turn around and behave like the devil himself with a patient in the next room. Surely the problem is one of the patient’s perceptions, not of actual sexually motivated actions by Dr. Leonard.
I have a further reason for believing that Dr. Leonard is the victim of some perverted misunderstanding. My mother had suffered from chronic pain for decades, pain that deprived her of restful sleep. I referred her to him, and Dr. Leonard was able to correctly diagnose and treat her condition after a number of other doctors had failed. He never touched her inappropriately either.
I was appalled by the lack of decorum exhibited during the trial before Board of Medical Examiners. Even other doctors who came forward to testify on Dr. Leonard’s behalf were treated with contempt by the panel. I see no good reason that Dr. Leonard’s license could not be restored with cautionary restrictions, such as he should have an assistant in the consulting room with him during examinations (something I am sure he would insist on now anyway so he would have a witness available!).
Joni Sager, 44