Ex-Valley Regional doctor pleads guilty to assault, avoids sex offender registry

By ANNA MERRIMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-24-2021 10:34 PM

NEWPORT — A former Valley Regional Hospital doctor who voluntarily disclosed his relationship with a patient has taken a plea deal that will allow him to get his medical license back and avoid the sex offender registry.

Eric Lee Knight, 53, of Derry, N.H., pleaded guilty to two felony counts of second-degree assault on Monday, according to court records filed in Sullivan Superior Court. The charges carry sentences of up to seven years in prison and a $4,000 fine, according to the documents. Knight was not sentenced during Monday’s hearing.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed that Knight will not have to register as a sex offender, and the state won’t restrict him from trying to get his medical license back, according to court documents.

Knight initially faced four counts, including two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault, but prosecutors agreed to drop the other charges as part of Knight’s plea deal Monday.

The hearing is the latest in a case that started nearly four years ago after Knight, formerly a family practice physician at Valley Regional Hospital, disclosed to the hospital in May 2017 that the had a sexual relationship with a patient, according to a filing by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine.

He voluntarily stopped practicing medicine after the admission and the hospital fired him a month later.

According to court documents, the relationship occurred while Knight served as the woman’s primary physician between the fall of 2016 and summer of 2017.

In the summer of 2017, Knight disclosed the relationship on an application for a renewal of his medical license, drawing the attention of the state Board of Medicine, which investigated the incident and suspended his license in September 2017.

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During interviews with investigators, Knight acknowledged having sex with two patients, including one in Claremont and one at a previous job elsewhere. He pleaded only to the Claremont charge Monday.

The woman in the Claremont case told state board investigators that they had sexual encounters in Knight’s office in Claremont, in the Valley Regional Hospital men’s locker room and at Knight’s Sunapee apartment. She also told investigators that several encounters were not consensual, and that Knight had impregnated her twice.

Knight told investigators that his feelings of guilt prompted him to disclose the relationship.

Prosecutors began the criminal investigation after the board suspended Knight’s license and filed sexual assault charges against him in early 2018. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail following the charges.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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