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June 2, 2004

State board: Doctor stole equipment used on a former patient

From: San Francisco Chronicle, CA - Jun 2, 2004

(06-02) 04:20 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) --

A videotape found in the possession of a former resident at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center shows him allegedly drugging and sexually molesting one of his former patients hours before the man died in a Calexico hotel room, according to papers filed by medical regulators.

The videotape, one of 140 seized by Calexico police, shows Dr. Warren Lemons giving 22-year-old MacArthur Townsend numerous drugs and using intubation equipment on him before massaging his genitals and strapping him to an ironing board, according to papers filed by the Medical Board of California.

Deputy Attorney General Thomas Lazar, representing the medical board, also alleges in the May 27 filing that Lemons stole two adult airway resuscitation emergency kits from King/Drew, where he was a family medicine trainee from 1999 to 2001. Lemons also first met Townsend, who is deaf, at the county-owned hospital.

The board has temporarily barred Lemons from practicing medicine in the state. In its latest filing, the board seeks permanent sanctions against Lemons.

Lemons, 39, was questioned and then released after he called paramedics to his Calexico hotel room April 14 to treat Townsend, who was in respiratory distress. Townsend was pronounced dead a short time later.

Lemons allegedly told paramedics he had probably overmedicated Townsend while practicing respiratory intubation on him, according to an earlier filing by the medical board.

The Imperial County district attorney has not filed criminal charges in the case. Lemons' lawyer, Robert A. Jones, said Lemons would ultimately would be exonerated.

John Wallace, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, declined to comment Tuesday to the Los Angeles Times, citing the ongoing police investigation.

In January, King/Drew employees gave Lemons Townsend's original medical file, about 21/2 years after he was fired from the hospital's family medicine training program. The county has also said Lemons barricaded himself and Townsend in an unused patient room at King/Drew in February.

©2004 Associated Press