Crime & Courts

Doctor charged with rape sues accuser, alleging slander

A former Lincoln County doctor, charged with raping a patient 17 years after the incident allegedly occurred, filed a slander suit against his accuser Wednesday, claiming she fabricated allegations and repeated them to the media.

In announcing the lawsuit, the attorney for gynecologist John Marshall also released a 2013 letter written by the accuser’s lawyer in which the lawyer said her client would stop talking to the media if Marshall paid an undisclosed settlement. (The Observer does not name victims of alleged sexual offenses.)

Marshall’s attorney, David Rudolf, described the letter as extortion. The accuser’s attorney, Susan Ervin of Statesville, said it was an offer to settle the woman’s civil claims against Marshall before a lawsuit gets filed.

Marshall’s complaint was filed in Mecklenburg Superior Court. In it, Rudolf cites hospital records that he says make it impossible for Marshall and another doctor to have sexually assaulted the woman in 1996, as she charges.

Marshall was arrested last October, accused of rape, conspiracy, and sexual offense by a custodian. The charges are pending.

He was twice suspended from practicing medicine – once in 2011 for improperly touching a nurse.

Lincolnton police said his arrest followed a yearlong investigation. The accuser said the attack occurred in 1996, when she went to the emergency room at Lincoln Memorial Medical Center, complaining of stomach pains. She said Marshall admitted her, then gave her medications that left her unable to speak and in and out of consciousness during her four-day stay at the hospital.

According to police, the woman said she woke up while Marshall and another doctor, since deceased, were assaulting her. Because of the drugs, she told police, she could not stop them.

Marshall’s lawsuit, citing hospital records amassed by the woman’s nurses, claims that the woman’s allegations “border on the absurd.”

For starters, the woman alleged Marshall treated her in the emergency room and insisted that she had pelvic and abdominal problems “as an excuse to examine her.”

According to the lawsuit, hospital records indicate two ER doctors found evidence of a pelvic infection before Marshall was called in to examine the woman. Contrary to her claims of being drugged, nurses’ notes repeatedly described her as alert, calm and physically capable throughout her stay, the suit says.

On the day she said the attack occurred, nurses reported that she had vomited and suffered diarrhea. She was taken to an examination room about five minutes away for a pelvic examination by Marshall and another doctor. She was back in her room 15 minutes after she left, the suit says.

That would have left five minutes for the assaults to have occurred, according to the suit.

“Dr. Marshall has had professional problems, there’s no denying that,” said Rudolph, who is also handling his client’s criminal case. “But that’s a far cry from the allegation that he and another doctor raped a patient when she had a 104 degree temperature, diarrhea, vomiting, and she’s got a pelvic infection.”

The lawsuit claims the woman talked with Charlotte TV stations around the time of Marshall’s arrest, and went back before the camera late last month to repeat her accusations.

Ervin told the Observer that investigators would not have made an arrest “without something other” than her client’s statement.

The woman, Ervin said, “believes she was raped. She has stuck to her story for more than a year. None of that has changed.”

Calls to the Lincolnton police chief and the two detectives handling Marshall’s case were not returned Wednesday.