© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pornography Conviction May End Doctor’s Career

A Tampa Bay anesthesiologist convicted of possessing child pornography,  Dr. James D. Murphy Jr., escaped a jail sentence. He hoped to keep his medical license and eventually return to practice.

Department of Health prosecutors were willing. But the Board of Medicine was most emphatically not.

On Friday, when Murphy’s case came before the board at its meeting in Tampa, members said there is no way they would let him return to practice.

“I would be horrified if my 19-year-old daughter went under anesthesia with (Murphy),” said Dr. Onelia Lage of Miami.

Consumer member Donald Mullins of Orlando had the same reaction. “I would never allow him to be in the operating room with one of my two daughters.”

DOH records indicate that Murphy’s practice was at Bayfront Medical Center, but that he is not practicing now.

In other action, the board:

--Voted to revoke the license of  a Fort Lauderdale physician on charges of lying under oath as an expert witness. Dr. Richard S. Dellerson, who said he now is not in active practice but is medical director for a fire-rescue service, protested the “extremely severe penalty.”  

Dellerson was accused of exaggerating his credentials in sworn statements while serving as a paid expert witness in a medical-malpractice case. He has the right to appeal the board’s decision.

-- Threw out a settlement prosecutors had reached with a Pompano Beach surgeon, saying they don’t want him doing any kind of procedures because he has poor judgment.

Dr. Steven Gelbard was accused of making mistakes in two cases while operating at Jackson Memorial Hospital-North. In one of the cases, he was accused of packing a wound with Sani-Wipes – used for cleaning hospital counters – instead of the proper surgical materials.

“I would never do this again in a million years,” Gelbard said. “I learned from this majorly.

In the Murphy case, records show he was arrested in 2010 and charges with 33 counts of child pornography found on his home computer. He pleaded guilty in November under an agreement that he would not have to go to jail.

He is officially a sex offender and must serve 10 years of probation, but does not have to wear an ankle monitor because the pornographic images he kept were of teenagers, not young children, records show.

The agreement that the board threw out -- which was reached by DOH prosecutors and Murphy's attorney -- would have included indefinite suspension while the doctor went through an evaluation by a special program for impaired physicians. It also called for his permanent restriction from treating females who were not adults.

DOH prosecutors said the agreement properly protected the public and noted there was no evidence Dr. Murphy had ever harmed patients.

But the board wasn't moved. With the agreement thrown out, Murphy has a week to decide whether to allow his license to be revoked or file an appeal to the Division of Administrative Hearings.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.After serving two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, Gentry worked for a number of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), the Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel. She was a Kaiser Foundation Media Fellow in 1994-95 and earned an Master's in Public Administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1996. She directed a journalism fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for four years.Gentry created Health News Florida, an independent non-profit health journalism publication, in 2006, and served as editor until September, 2014, when she became a special correspondent. She and Health News Florida joined WUSF in 2012.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.