Friday, August 31, 2007

Sex, Drugs & A Federal Prosecution

The shabby case against Dr. Bernard L. Rottschaefer

by Radley Balko - August 31, 2007 - Reason Magazine

When federal agents raided the Pittsburgh-area office of Dr. Bernard L. Rottschaefer, the resulting allegations came as a shock to the 63-year-old man's friends and family: Rottschaefer, the office of U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan alleged, had been writing prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication and opiate painkillers like OxyContin in exchange for sex.

Rottschaefer's arrest came at the height of a nationwide moral panic over prescription painkiller abuse. His 2004 trial came just after the Orlando Sentinel newspaper had published a landmark series on abuse of the painkiller OxyContin, a series that inspired Congressional hearings and legislation across the country-and a series the newspaper later had to
retract in its entirety, and for which the paper eventually fired an editor and reporter.

The war on drugs is an obscenity. A doctor who comitted no crime is convicted of prescribing drugs that are called excessive by a prosecutor with no reasonable claim to medical competence by the prosecutor. The doctor made no money on the drug sales. The charges that he received sex are clearly bogus, and when disproved the prosecutor simply ignores the doctors innocence and defends the prosecution anyway even though the doctor can have no reason to have prescribed the drugs improperly.

Our courts are bastions of incompetence and corruption. The contemptible actions of Durhan D.A. Nifong and his ilk are typical of a much larger number of prosecutors than the courts are willing to admit.


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