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News of the Day ... In Perspective


Patient helps to frame doctor to get out of jail

In an article entitled “Sex, lies, and OxyContin,” New York Times columnist John Tierney tells the sordid story of how Dr. Bernard Rottschaefer has been sentenced to more than six years in prison on the basis of perjured testimony.

Star prosecution witness Jennifer Riggle, a drug addict, testified that Dr. Rottschaefer traded drugs for sex, as did three other women. The women knew each other and all had something to gain by “cooperating” with the DEA.

In letters she wrote from prison to a now-estranged boyfriend, Riggle said she had lied about Dr. Rottschaefer in exchange for a promise of clemency. She was sentenced to probation instead of six years in prison. She also told her boyfriend of her fear that a fellow inmate would reveal her admission of making up the story about the doctor.

When the letters came to light, the court denied Dr. Rottschaefer a new trial. Ms. Riggle has not been charged with perjury. Prosecutors argue that Dr. Rottschaefer should go to prison even if he didn’t exchange drugs for sex because he should have examined Ms. Riggle more carefully and diagnosed her addiction.

“The agents and prosecutors are supposed to be experts at detecting liars, and they had far better investigative tools available to them than Rottschaefer did,” Tierney writes. “Yet they apparently weren’t careful enough or shrewd enough to see through Riggle’s story. If they don’t deserve prison time for that mistake, neither does her doctor” (NY Times 1/24/06).

One of the other witnesses, who testified in salacious detail about having oral sex with the doctor, was unable to say whether he was circumcised.

The conviction is being appealed.

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