In a textbook case of “too little, too late,” the Iowa Board of Medicine appeared to move on July 3 to stop a physician who was recently charged with sexual abuse of a child.
The board did not disclose the name of the physician at the center of “an agreement not to practice,” approved by unanimous vote after an hour-long, closed-session discussion. But the meeting was widely believed to pertain to Dr. Lynn Lindaman.
The Department of Public Safety announced Lindaman’s arrest on June 28. Charging documents accuse him of touching the “privates” of a child born in 2015, first over the child’s clothing and the next day through “skin to skin contact.”
Late last week, the Board of Medicine revealed plans to discuss an agreement with an unnamed physician at a virtual meeting set for 5:30 pm on July 3. The pre-holiday dump is a well-known government tactic for keeping bad or embarrassing news from reaching a wide audience.
It’s not the first time Lindaman has been charged with this kind of crime. A jury determined in 1976 that he had committed “lascivious acts” with a 13-year-old child. Sherri Moler, the victim in that case, had “pleaded and begged” many times for the Iowa Board of Medicine to stop Lindaman and other abusers from practicing. Board members didn’t listen. Neither Governor Kim Reynolds nor the Republican-controlled legislature demanded action.
MEDICAL CAREER FOLLOWS DEFERRED JUDGMENT
Despite the jury verdict in the case involving Moler, Lindaman was able to go to medical school and have a long career as a doctor. That’s because the presiding judge ordered “a deferred judgment, which meant that after [Lindaman] served probation, the court sealed public documentation of the case.”
Moler is at this [January 2023] meeting, as she has been at every monthly public meeting for the past three years because she wants one thing: for the board to change the language on the renewal application for medical professionals to prevent doctors who have had deferred judgments in abuse cases from practicing medicine.
Lenz reached out to board members and staff about Moler’s requests. No answers.
Long before Moler began pushing for change, Iowa’s state ombudsman published a special report in 2017 on the “unaccountable” way Iowa’s professional licensing boards investigate complaints. Ombudsman staff were stonewalled for years while trying to determine how various state boards handled such matters.
The ombudsman report does not specify which boards were prone to “incomplete investigations” and “poor documentation of board and staff deliberations” of complaints against licensees. But Lenz’s reporting indicates that when it comes to the Iowa Board of Medicine, the shoe fits.
The Iowa Board of Medicine says it cannot comment on investigations. Moler says she was told her case was investigated, but she laughs at the term because, she says, she was never even interviewed.
Month after month, board members listened to Moler’s appeals, without responding or following up afterward.
She nevertheless got her point across. As Clark Kauffman reported for Iowa Capital Dispatch, Moler attended the Zoom meeting “while holding up a bright green placard that read, ‘I told you so.'”
“I HAVE DEEP CONCERNS ABOUT THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY”
Democratic State Senator Janet Petersen sounded the alarm about problems at the Board of Medicine when the Iowa Senate debated confirmation of two nominees in April.
Republicans now hold two-thirds of the Iowa Senate seats, so even without any Democratic support, they were able to confirm Dr. Robert Donnelly (a new appointee) and Dr. Chad Stadsvold (initially appointed by Reynolds in 2021 but not confirmed until this year) in party-line votes.
Petersen posted the video on her Facebook page June 30, following news of Lindaman’s arrest.
First, Petersen noted the governor’s “problematic” decision to leave some Board of Medicine positions unfilled. The board is supposed to have ten members. But Senate approval of the two nominees before them in April would leave the body with five Republicans, three members with no party affiliation, and two vacancies. Reynolds has used the same approach to ensure no Democrats are represented on several other state boards (see here and here), flouting the spirit of Iowa’s law regarding political affiliation on appointed boards.
Petersen added that she had “deep concerns about the lack of transparency I’ve seen for Iowans who have bravely come before the Board of Medicine time and time again” to report on possible misconduct by Iowa physicians. “Those concerns have gone into a black hole.”
The senator noted that the governor’s office and state legislature “have failed to address” the state ombudsman’s findings about the lack of transparency on the board.
Patients aren’t the only people who rely on the Board of Medicine to make sure health care professionals are competent and not “perpetrators,” Petersen said. Insurance companies and public health insurance plans like Medicaid also need that information. Failing to act on an unsafe provider “puts our lives at risk.”
Petersen wrapped up by expressing hope that the governor’s office and GOP-controlled legislature would consider “deep and significant changes to improve the Board of Medicine,” and urged board members to take a hard look at their policies.
Specifically the Sherri Moler case, where we had a mandatory reporter who went before that board time and time again, and was ignored. It is completely unacceptable.
This body should look at all of those minutes, all those times that she went to try and protect Iowa patients, and was ignored.
I sought comment from Tibben and communications staff for the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing, where the Board of Medicine is now housed (effective July 1). My questions:
In the wake of Lindaman’s arrest, will the board consider changing the language on the license renewal application to address deferred judgments that happened long ago? (The current application asks about criminal charges since the date of the last renewal.)
If so, will that item be on the agenda for the board’s July meeting?
Why didn’t the board take action in light of Moler’s repeated warnings?
There was no response, but I will update this post as needed if I hear back.
Top image cropped from a logo published on the Iowa Board of Medicine’s official website.