Bedside Matter

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

Around this time, Finkel had given Julie a pain-killing injection that put her in a kind of "twilight sleep," but she told the police she never was completely unconscious. She recalled that a medical assistant had been present during the clitoral rubbing.

Julie said she closed her eyes, but did hear the operating-room door open and close a few times in the next few minutes.

"She said that she then felt Finkel 'lick her down there,' and said it lasted for approximately three to five seconds," according to the report.

Phoenix abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel.
Phoenix abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel.
Phoenix abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel.
Doug Hoeschler
Phoenix abortionist Dr. Brian Finkel.

The officers filed their report with the sex-crimes unit, but Detective James Newhouse didn't re-interview Julie until March 22, three weeks after Carol had contacted Phoenix police about her problems with Finkel.

In her second interview, Julie conceded that she hadn't said anything to Finkel during the alleged assault. She described Finkel's "hot breath" on her clitoris, and said that when she opened her eyes, he was sitting on the end of the operating table looking at her.

"She knows what a tongue feels like on her clitoris," Newhouse wrote in his report, adding that Julie was "100 percent sure" that a tongue had touched her clitoris.

But Newhouse never confronted Finkel with Julie's allegations. Nor did he submit the case to county prosecutors for review, as Detective Haduch did after investigating Carol's allegations last year.

Instead, Newhouse's mini-investigation ended with his written notation, "There are other reports involving Dr. Finkel that are also being investigated."

Police won't discuss their investigations into Finkel. Says Haduch, "I don't feel comfortable talking about the Finkel case at this time. We submitted [the allegations involving Carol] to the County Attorney, and it's an open investigation there, so it's up to them what happens next."

Still, Haduch's report includes potentially powerful testimony from a number of Finkel's former employees who generally corroborate the patients' complaints. In separate interviews, four ex-medical assistants who'd worked closely with Finkel told the detective they'd seen the doctor routinely perform what was known at the clinic as the "clit flick" -- improper touching of the clitoris during preoperative exams.

One of the ex-assistants, Crystal Sykes, also told Phoenix police last year that Finkel often "fondled the patient's breasts to wake them from [a] twilight sleep . . . and every one of Finkel's medical assistants knew this."

"Crystal stated mostly it was the cute patients," according to a police report. Sykes "stated she couldn't say if Finkel would manipulate the clitoris of every patient. Crystal said in some of the more attractive patients, Finkel would stay in the room and she would leave. Crystal stated she has re-entered the room and seen Finkel rubbing the patient's inner thighs while the patient was in the stirrups.

"I spoke with Crystal about the pelvic exam and the allegations about Finkel manipulating the clitoris," the report says. "Crystal stated how she felt uncomfortable about this part of the exam. Crystal said when the patient was attractive, Finkel would find reasons to stay in the room alone with the patients."

Sykes worked for Finkel for about 18 months in the late 1990s. She told police she'd be willing to testify against Finkel.

Finkel says Sykes is lying, and has a vendetta against him because he fired her.

In August 2000, Haduch found Valley resident Karen Corbett, who had worked for Finkel for 10 years. Corbett corroborated Sykes' account, and also said she and other medical assistants had told Finkel that the breast-fondling was inappropriate. Corbett also said she'd informed the doctor's wife, Diana -- who works part time as Finkel's office manager -- about the allegedly inappropriate fondling. However, Diana Finkel tells New Times that, "No one ever has told me that my husband was doing anything inappropriate during any examination. I'm sure I would have addressed it with him immediately."

According to Haduch's police report, Corbett said, "Finkel would particularly fondle the breasts of larger-chested women or women with breast enhancement. I asked Karen if she had ever been out of the room and Finkel was alone with the patient. Karen said this happened numerous times."

"I asked Karen about the term 'clit flick.' Karen saw Finkel perform this flicking. Karen had seen Finkel do this during every pelvic exam. Karen and other medical assistants told Finkel this was inappropriate. Karen reported she would become upset about this flicking and would look away."

The doctor dismisses Corbett's allegations, telling New Times he's "never 'clit-flicked' a patient for improper motive, or improper gratification. I don't want to, I don't need to, and I don't have to. Do I touch their breasts as anything other than as a professional part of their exam? No. I have no reason to, and I am not going to.

"I've gone out of my way to make sure, No. 1, that I'm never alone with a patient. No. 2, when I take a patient to the exam room, I tell her how to prepare for an exam. I leave the room and she undresses by herself. I come back in the room with a medical assistant by my side, or one at my beck and call. I never examine a patient without a female attendant being present. No ifs, ands or buts."

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