The real Ken Fisher isn't reflected in the accusations against him, according to his defenders. And they say he will fight to prove it.
Calvin Raup, Fisher's attorney, says Fisher is "a good man . . . who has been very badly served" by the accusations against him.
Raup says that the months of the investigation and the shadow it has drawn over Fisher's practice have taken a heavy, personal toll on Fisher.
About March of last year, Fisher took time out from his practice to attend two different psychological evaluation and treatment programs, Raup says. He left Phoenix for a period of several months for the therapy.
Fisher also filed for personal and corporate bankruptcy last year; Raup says the financial troubles stem from Fisher's extended absence from the practice. However, Fisher continues to treat patients, though he does not keep the same workaholic schedule he once did.
"He is doing all this stuff when it would be far simpler to just walk away," Raup says. "He could fold his corporation, he could allow the bankruptcy court to eliminate all the obligations that he has, but he's chosen to stay in there and fight. He's trying to . . . continue to minister to the HIV-positive population, and he's got this crap he's got to deal with."
Raup attributes the accusations against Fisher to professional jealousy and revenge by some patients.
"There are people out there who are contacting his patients, who are making up stories, spreading rumors and trying to take that patient population away from him so they can have it for themselves," Raup says. "That's the kind of world we live in, unfortunately."
Raup also says that some of Fisher's former patients are mad at him because he didn't return their sexual advances.
Raup refers to a letter he received from one of Fisher's supporters, which describes "the mindset" of a terminally ill AIDS patient.
"He uses a phrase in the letter, and I have to quote, this is not a phrase that I would use, 'Hell hath no fury like a fag scorned,'" Raup says. "His message there is if a patient comes on to Dr. Fisher, and he doesn't accept their offer, whatever it may be, then they're angry.
"I can't say that that's the explanation for everything, but if you put yourself into the mindset of a gay male, rejected by his society, a gay male who is HIV-positive, who knows he's going to die, really there are very few consequences for making up a story that's not true, for exaggerating a story that has a factual basis, or for simply going for the brass ring while you've got a few days left."
Fisher is now learning that lines must be drawn in his practice that would not be necessary "in a different culture," Raup says.
But what Raup says is the worst part of the ongoing BOMEX investigation is that the man he sees as the real Ken Fisher--and the work he's done--has gotten "lost in the shuffle."
"Ken Fisher's a special guy," Raup says. "My wife and I had a friend who died almost four years ago, and because he was HIV-positive, no one wanted to treat him. . . . Everybody's afraid of AIDS, and everybody's afraid of those people. Ken Fisher's not afraid of those people; he takes care of them. . . . He can't take a vacation, he can't take a break, because no one will cover his patients. . . . If he didn't care for them, there would be thousands of people in this state who would go without medical care."
There are patients of Fisher's who still stand by him as well.
Bob, a flight attendant and a patient of Fisher's since 1986, describes the doctor as a "humble and professional man."
Bob says he's never been more comfortable with any other doctor.
"With me, he sits down and he goes over all the medications that I'm taking, tells me what kind of treatment we can do if this doesn't work. He doesn't make promises to people he can't keep, but he tries to keep you up. I think he's a wonderful man," Bob says.
He recalls going through a spinal tap--a painful and invasive diagnostic test--and having Fisher at his side through the whole ordeal.
Chaperones have also been present at each examination, Bob says.
"He acts like nothing is going on," Bob says. "When I'm in a room with him, he acts like nothing has ever happened. And I know he's gone through a lot of hell. . . . I really do admire him. He doesn't treat you like a slab of meat; he treats you like you're a person."