Sex offender is allowed to be a chiropractor

  • Article by: LORA PABST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2010 - 9:25 AM

He faces restrictions but will not have to tell patients of his felonies.

Dr. Scott Fredin

For the next four years, Dr. Scott Fredin can't buy pornography or use the Internet without a probation officer's approval. The police can drop by at any time to see if he has been drinking. As a registered sex offender, he must tell authorities every time he moves or gets a new job.

One thing the 41-year-old chiropractor won't have to do, however, is tell his clients he spent two years in jail for sexually assaulting two patients.

This month, more than six years after revoking Fredin's license for the felony convictions, the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners granted Fredin's request to get his license back. To protect Fredin's clients, the board said he cannot treat any female patients without someone else in the room. Fredin is working in Minneapolis, but he can't treat patients until regulators approve his new location.

Fredin declined to discuss the situation when a Star Tribune reporter visited the office near Loring Park.

Under state law, many professionals -- including dentists, psychologists and nurses -- can't be barred from practicing after a criminal conviction as long as they can show licensing boards they were rehabilitated.

Larry Spicer, executive director of the chiropractic board, said citizens often want regulators to take a firm stand when an "egregious case" occurs, but he said the board's hands are tied by law.

However, there are no second chances at the state Board of Medical Practice, which regulates 22,000 health-care providers, including physicians, midwives and acupuncturists. In 1995, the Legislature passed a law requiring the board to yank the medical license of anyone convicted of a felony-level sexual offense.

Regulators used that law in 2008 to revoke the license of a New Brighton psychiatrist after he pleaded guilty to having sex with a patient who had been hospitalized for depression. A Roseville doctor got the boot after pleading guilty to charges related to fondling a girl he was treating for asthma.

Ruth Martinez, the medical board's complaint supervisor, said the law is a "great tool" because it "takes people who have been convicted of very serious conduct out of practice immediately."

Former state Sen. Steve Kelley, who co-sponsored the 1995 licensing bill, said it was meant to protect patients in vulnerable settings, where a provider can exploit someone's trust. Chiropractors certainly fit that description, Kelley said.

Spicer said his board would probably support extending the revocation requirement to chiropractors if legislators revisit the issue.

'I could lose my license'

Fredin's practice in Owatonna, Minn., started unraveling one morning in 2002, when a 22-year-old patient showed up for an appointment at his clinic. Although Fredin had treated the woman the previous day, he suggested that she return on Saturday morning, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman quickly realized she and Fredin were alone. Fredin asked the woman to change into a pair of shorts. He began to massage her thigh and genital area. Over the woman's protests, Fredin insisted that she "lay back, close your eyes and relax," according to the criminal complaint. She tried to sit up, but Fredin held her down while he used his fingers to penetrate her vagina. Fredin abruptly apologized and left the room. A few hours after fleeing the clinic, the woman reported the incident to police.

Investigators persuaded the woman to maintain contact with the chiropractor, and they recorded several phone conversations. During one call, Fredin begged the woman to stay quiet. "I could lose my license,'' Fredin told her, according to the complaint. "I don't know why I did it."

Four other patients came forward to accuse Fredin of similar behavior, according to the chiropractic board's revocation order. In a second case that led to a conviction, a patient said Fredin fondled her groin and touched the outside of her vagina through a pair of boxer shorts he made her wear. After the woman got off the treatment table, Fredin hugged her, pressing his erect penis against her stomach through his clothes, according to the complaint.

In September 2003, Fredin pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Fredin, who got out of jail in 2006, couldn't reapply for his chiropractic license until 2008.

He was caught violating his probation in 2008 when a police officer found him drinking at his Savage home even though he is prohibited from consuming alcohol until his probation ends in 2014. Fredin was ordered to comply with electronic monitoring for about six weeks.

Making it hard to reoffend

In 2008, regulators temporarily revoked the license of another Minnesota chiropractor, Dr. Lonnie R. Haken, after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two young female patients, one of whom was mentally disabled. His 12-year prison sentence was put on hold and he served less than a year in jail. Haken can reapply for his chiropractic license in 2013.

Vernon Temple, president of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, said regulators are often stymied when they try to take stronger action against a practitioner. "The first inclination of a board is to never license these people again," Temple said. "But the legal system may be saying that's a little too punitive for someone who has gone through... rehabilitation."

Under the conditions of his license, Fredin can't operate a solo practice, and his co-workers must sign an affidavit saying they are aware of the limitations on his practice. Fredin's license is registered at Human Interfaces, a Willow Street practice that includes several psychiatrists and psychologists, according to a sign posted in the office.

The chiropractic board also will check Fredin's patient records to make sure someone is signing off as a witness to the treatment of female patients. Spicer said such restrictions have proven effective in other cases. "Having that third-party presence really sets the stage to make it impossible or nearly impossible for the doctor to reoffend," he said.

Staff writer Jane Friedmann contributed to this report.

Lora Pabst • 612-673-4628

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