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Diane Sawyer and the Non-Story of Lawson Akpulonu

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The medical board in California went public with a complaint from a patient they identified as "A. A." While under anesthesia for an abortion by Akpulonu at his Midland Medical Center on January 28, 1995:

    "A.A. awoke to find respondent raping her; he had penetrated her vagina with his penis. Respondent gave patient A.A. a shot and she went back to sleep. When patient A.A. woke up a second time, she saw respondent next to her. She saw his erect penis out of his pants. She tried to push him away. ... Respondent then gave her another shot and she went back to sleep. When patient A.A. awoke for a third time, she found her sweater had been removed and her bra partially pulled down exposing her right breast. Respondent was caressing patient A.A.'s body. ...when patient A.A. tried to scream, respondent placed his hand over her mouth. Respondent told patient A.A. she had a beautiful body. He said she was a very nice girl and a very sexy girl while he continued rubbing her inside her blouse and bra. He kissed her right breast. He then placed his business card inside her bra and said she could call him anytime"
    Source: California Medical Board Accusation No. 17-95-46707

We'd offered to give Diane Sawyer a scoop on the Akpolunu scandal. She dismissed it as "a non-story." And it turned out that he was evidently raping his patients.

More reports of abuse started pouring in from other patients once A.A. had the courage go come forward.

A patient idenfitied as "T.O." said that she had an abortion by Akpulonu on November 9, 1992. The anesthetic injection was supposed to induce sleep but only made her drowsy. Akpulonu ordered the nurse to leave the room and performed the abortion. "[Akpulonu] began to massage patient T.O.'s vagina with his hand. Patient began to cry. [Akpulonu] also began to rub her thighs and buttocks and he fondled her breasts through her blouse. ... [T.O.] could feel him rub his groin up against her exposed vagina. He had his pants on at the time. Patient T.O. continued to cry. She asked respondent what he was doing and pushed his hand away." Akpulonu then left the room and the nurse returned and gave T.O. follow-up instructions.
Source: California Medical Board Accusation No. 17-95-46707

A patient identified as "D.L." reported that she'd had an abortion by Akpulonu on June 22, 1994, and a follow-up appointment and colposcopy exam on July 14 of that year:

"During the examination, the phone rang and the respondent told his assistant to answer the phone," leaving Akpulonu alone with D.L. He met with her in his office after the exam, and told her that she had a severe infection. Akpulonu quoted a price of $1500 for treatments. D.L. cried when she heard the cost. "He said what she had was treatable and that was more important than the money. He also said, 'Don't worry, I like you, I'll do anything for you.'" D.L. went for first the first scheduled laser treatment on July 22, and was unconscious and alone with Akpulonu during the 1.5 hour procedure. Her next visit was August 2. Akpulonu squeezed D.L.'s shoulder while alone with her, and drew blood using a latex glove instead of a tourniquet. Two fingers of the glove inflated as he tightened the glove around D.L's arm, and Akpulonu tapped the inflated fingers playfully, "referring to them as penises by saying, 'This one's Chinese, and this one's Vietnamese.'" As D.L. left the room after blood was drawn, Akpulonu grasped her firmly by the waist and pulled her back close to him. "She was confused. She turned her head and saw him smiling. She said 'No' and freed herself from his hold."
Source: California Medical Board Accusation No. 17-95-46707

Patient J.L. came forward. She said that she'd had an appointment for a second trimester abortion with Akpulonu, and had been quoted price of $350. She arrived on August 23 for her appointment, and told Akpulonu that other facilities had turned her away because she had a heart condition. Akpulonu instructed her to falsify her health questionnaire and not to report the heart condition. He inserted laminaria in preparation for the abortion and sent J.L. home. J.L. returned as instructed over the next two days for monitoring of dilation. On August 25, the abortion was performed. Akpulonu then billed $3150 to J.L.'s mother's American Express card.

The medical board document alleged unsanitary conditions at Midland Medical Clinic, and alleged that Akpulonu had applied for a fictitious name license under false pretenses for his 3 clinics, naming as shareholders or applicants "physicians and surgeons who in fact have no business association with respondent or his corporation."

A former employee allegedly told the Medical Board that Akpulonu did not sterilize instruments and used untrained assistants in surgery, and that he flushed fetal remains down the toilet, allegations similar to those made by the nurse who contacted Life Dynamics. This former employee also alleged being hired with no medical training or experience, and being required to assist in surgery. Unlike the nurse who quit after only four hours on the job, this employee quit after 3 weeks.
Source: LA Times 1-31-93

Akpulonu had also been arrested for perjury on government documents. He had been given probation for brandishing a loaded handgun on pro-lifers. Aonsumer advocate alleged that Akpulonu was involved in an AIDS testing fraud. Akpulonu had pleaded guilty to medical insurance fraud. On November 19, 1991, Akpulonu threatened a parking garage attendant with a loaded .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which he had been carrying concealed in his vehicle, when the attendant asked him to remove his improperly parked car from a restricted area. The original charges of exhibiting a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, and carrying a loaded firearm in a public place were amended to add a charge of disturbing the peace; Akpulonu pleaded nolo contendere to the added charge February 20, 1992, and the remaining charges were dismissed.
Sources: LA Times 1-31-93; Medical Board Accusation D-5286

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