Our local paper has published the news that one of our doctors has turned in his license to practice medicine in response to accusations that he has behaved inappropriately with female patients. Of course, the reporter didn’t stop with just the basic information; he had to go into great deatail about just what sort of inappropriate contact the doctor had been alleged to have had with the women filing the complaints against him.
This happens to be… my doctor. He’s also a fellow Catholic, a member of my original parish, a husband and a father. When my ex-husband had a medical crisis early in our marriage, this doctor was his admitting physician and saw both of us through a difficult and, for me, frightening episode. I’ve seen him since for sinusitis and other general ailments (fortunately for me, the only sorts of ailments I suffer).
When I started attending Mass in anticipation of converting, he and his wife were among the first people I became (re-)acquainted with. They were warm and welcoming. At one point they looked at property that was for sale adjacent to mine, and I had hoped we would become neighbors. I’ve observed this man with his family in Mass and at local restaurants — I’ve seen his patience and kindness with a highly energetic son and with crying babies.
I don’t understand how a man, serious about his religion and blessed with a lovely and affectionate wife and beautiful family, could fall in such a flagrant way, but I know it does happen. I don’t know how a woman, knowing her husband, the man to whom she is linked, body and spirit, has violated the promises of their marriage covenant, can survive such a blow… but women do it every day.
But this wife has the additional burden of particular details of her betrayal and humiliation being placed in print for the general public to read and talk about. The extent of the detail was certainly not necessary; it seems to me that prurient interests were being catered to, not genuine reporting.
Whatever happens in their family, this newspaper article has made their situation even more difficult. There must be some means of holding reporters and publishers to moral responsibility, sensitivity to those innocent people whose lives are disrupted by scandalous disclosures, common decency.