Bedside Matter

Outspoken abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel faces possible prosecution in multiple patient molestation case

Finkel says some women just don't understand what a pelvic exam is: "They misconstrue professional conduct for professional misconduct. . . . Physicians that abuse their patients in this state go to prison. I'm not going to go to prison, because I'm not doing anything wrong."


I am a busy gynecologist, and would never do a breast exam on any patient, regardless of age, without a female attendant present to protect her dignity and my integrity--Dr. Finkel, in a February 1999 letter to Ann Landers, about unchaperoned x-ray technicians who perform breast exams

Brian Finkel wears a gun at his Phoenix clinic to protect himself against violent anti-abortionists.
Doug Hoeschler
Brian Finkel wears a gun at his Phoenix clinic to protect himself against violent anti-abortionists.

One-on-one allegations of sexual misconduct that lack physical evidence are notoriously difficult for prosecutors to prove in court. The potential case against Brian Finkel, however, has details that transcend the he-said, she-said circumstances that often hamper authorities.

Perhaps most important is that four of Finkel's ex-employees have told authorities that they often saw the doctor touch his patients' clitorises during pelvic examinations. The four said he also would regularly fondle the breasts of patients in a non-medical manner. Each of those employees have said that, contrary to Finkel's claims, he often found ways to be alone -- sometimes for five or six minutes -- with many of his prettier patients.

As for Carol, the fact that she phoned police immediately is a plus for prosecutors. It's also important that she's not aligned with Finkel's longtime enemies -- right-to-lifers who would love to see him crumble. "I really agree with a woman's right to choose if she's prepared to have a child or not," she says. "I think it's up to the woman herself."

Carol hasn't sued the doctor, nor has she hired an attorney. Instead, after Finkel allegedly abused her, she sought therapy. She says she didn't file a complaint with the state osteopathic board against Finkel because she didn't think of it. Carol also claims she didn't know that five other women had filed sexual misconduct allegations against Finkel with Phoenix police until she recently read the report on her own case for the first time.

It turns out that those other reports contain allegations that are remarkably similar to Carol's -- allegations that Finkel manipulated their clitorises in a manner they claim was sexual.

The earliest complaint was filed in 1991. "Terry" told police and, more recently, New Times, that Finkel had rubbed her clitoris during a gynecological examination. Now 37, the Phoenix woman says she went to Finkel's clinic because it was open on a Saturday, when she wasn't working.

"I had an infection that needed to be looked at," Terry says. "I went in, and his assistant was at the sink washing dishes or something for a long, long time. That was when this doctor put his hand down there, and just started rubbing my clitoris. That's never happened to me during an exam, before or since. I was shocked. I looked directly at him, and I was about to say something, when he turned away. It was not a normal visit."

Terry says she later told her mother what had happened. The next morning, she called Phoenix police: "My thinking was, what does he do to those young girls I saw at his office, girls who are already flipped out because they're getting an abortion, and then they have to deal with that yahoo?"

Police reports confirm that a Phoenix detective interviewed Terry at the time. She says the investigator told her a criminal case against Finkel would be difficult because "it was my word against his and that the woman [medical assistant] in the room hadn't seen anything, or hadn't cared to see anything."

Terry says she also filed a complaint with the state osteopathic board. "About eight months goes by, and I finally get a letter. They say they've spoken to Dr. Finkel, and that's it. End of story."

Terry says she no longer has that letter. Osteopathic board executive director Ann Marie Berger says that, under Arizona law, she can't even confirm the existence of a dismissed complaint that's more than three years old, nor a "letter of concern" from the board to a doctor that's more than five years old.

Phoenix police files also include allegations of sexual misconduct against Finkel in 1992, two in 1995, and the one from Julie in 2000, shortly before Carol filed her complaint.

From a summary of the November 1992 report: "[Finkel] flicked victim's clitoris several times [and] pinched breast nipples."

From a summary of a January 1995 report: "[Finkel] stimulated clitoris for approximately three seconds. Squeezed and pulled on breast nipples."

From a summary of an October 1995 report filed by a 26-year-old Phoenix woman: "[Finkel] rubbed clitoris up and down several times."

Then, on January 25, 2000, Phoenix police traced a 911 hang-up call to a residence inside city limits. According to a police report, two officers were met at the home by a distraught 24-year-old woman.

"Julie" told them that, accompanied by a girlfriend earlier that day, she had gone to Finkel's clinic for an abortion. Finkel had performed a previous abortion on Julie a few years earlier, without incident.

This time, however, she alleged something far different.

"[Julie] said that he began to rub KY jelly on her vagina," the police report said, "but while doing this, he rubbed her clitoris three or four times. . . ."

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