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Former Valley Regional Physician Charged With Sexual Assault

  • Eric Knight (courtsey Calremont Police Dept.)



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2018

Claremont — A former Valley Regional Hospital doctor who self-reported a sexual relationship with a patient in May has been charged with one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault.

Dr. Eric L. Knight, 50, of Derry, N.H., turned himself in to Claremont police on an arrest warrant on Friday and was released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail, according to a news release issued on Monday by Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase and Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway.

The New Hampshire Board of Medicine suspended Knight’s medical license in September after he disclosed in May that he “engaged in a sexual relationship with a patient,” according to a board filing. Knight, who was a family practice physician in Claremont, voluntarily surrendered his credentials in May, and Valley Regional Hospital fired him in June.

“The charging document alleges that he engaged in sexual penetration with a person during the course of a treating relationship,” Hathaway said in a telephone interview on Monday. He declined to get into specifics, but said additional charges are likely.

Under New Hampshire law, it is a felony for a doctor, while in the course of treating a patient, to engage in sexual penetration with that person, according to the state’s criminal code.

After the Board of Medicine suspended Knight’s license in September, a criminal investigation ensued, the news release said.

“The order of suspension alleged that Knight engaged in an unlawful sexual relationship with a patient while practicing medicine at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont,” the release said.

A message left for Knight’s attorney, Andrea Daly of Portsmouth-based Robinson, Boesch, Sennott & Masse, wasn’t returned.

The release doesn’t give specifics about the alleged incident, including details about what Knight is accused of doing or when. Claremont Police Sgt. Stephen Alex Lee also declined to expand on the allegation. Chase, the Claremont chief, deferred questions to Lee and Hathaway, the prosecutor.

However, documents filed online by the state Board of Medicine make reference to a board investigator interview with “patient 1 about her alleged sexual relationship with (Knight) that he had recently disclosed.”

The documents make reference to two inappropriate relationships with patients, one at Valley Regional Hospital in 2016-17 and the other at Elliot Primary Care in Londonderry, N.H., in 2013-14.

The alleged sexual misconduct came to the attention of the state when Knight disclosed one of the relationships in a license renewal application filed over the summer. Shortly after he disclosed that information, he began receiving treatment, the document said.

The woman told investigators that the sexual relationship started in late 2016, and occurred in places such as Knight’s office in Claremont, in the Valley Regional Hospital men’s locker room and at Knight’s Sunapee apartment. She asserted that they had intercourse against her will several times.

The patient told the investigator that she became pregnant with Knight’s child twice, but lost both pregnancies; she said she got pregnant with the aid of hormone injections Knight gave her. She also told an investigator that Knight injured her during sex, according to the board filing.

She also told an investigator that Knight spent time with her two children without her permission. Her children also were Knight’s patients.

In a separate interview with a board investigator, Knight said he met with her at least three times a week and had sexual intercourse. He denied having sex with her in his office, but acknowledged that he “massaged patient 1 and did stretching exercises with her” during one office visit, actions he said he realized were “inappropriate.”

The sexual relationship ended in April, but Knight told investigators he tried to continue to treat the woman for a few weeks “until his guilt and depression drove him to disclose the relationship.”

In addition to the patients at Valley Regional and Elliot Primary Care, Knight also allegedly told a board investigator that he had another “sexual boundary (violation)” in 1999 while he was in residency in Massachusetts, according to a separate board filing. Knight started at Valley Regional Hospital in 2015.

In addition to alleged sexual misconduct with patients, the board’s filings indicate that Knight also failed to comply with the board’s opioid prescribing rules. He hasn’t been charged criminally on that accusation.

Hathaway, the prosecutor, commended the quick work of everyone involved in the case. Law enforcement officials weren’t aware of the situation involving Knight until an article appeared in the Valley News and other newspapers in September.

The allegation rocked the Valley Regional Hospital community, hospital CEO Peter Wright said at the time. Wright himself recruited and hired Knight, and Wright said Knight was a person he and others at the close-knit hospital trusted. He was unavailable for comment on Monday.

“We are very appreciative of the referral from the New Hampshire Board of Medicine and secondly, the Claremont Police Department, (which) moved very quickly to bring this to a place where we were able to move forward,” Hathaway said.

Knight will be arraigned in Claremont District Court on Feb. 12.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway was interviewed on Monday by the Valley News about charges announced that day against Eric Knight, a former physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont. A story in Tuesday's Valley News incorrectly stated what day Hathaway was interviewed.