Doctors Behaving Badly: Florida Doc Charged with Soliciting Underage Sex Online

Published on
May 26, 2010

What does it take for your record to be blemished if you're a doctor in Florida?

Would attempting to have sex with a child leave a dent?

Apparently not.

As Bob LaMendola at the Florida Sun Sentinel reports, Dr. Stuart F. Tillman, a Tallahassee anesthesiologist, was busted in July 2009 and charged with soliciting sex online from a 14-year-old girl.

Not once. Not twice. But at least 10 times. Theresa Collington at Tampa Bay's WTSP 10 Connects reports:

The arrest report indicates that Tillman started communicating with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl from Jacksonville in November 2008 using a Yahoo Messenger chat room. He was actually sending messages to an investigator with the Attorney General's CyberCrime Unit. Tillman, who is married, provided the "girl" with detailed instructions regarding sex acts he wanted her to perform. The report states Tillman contacted the girl numerous times after that first conversation, sometimes saying he wanted to meet and have sex with her. Only 10 of the conversations were discussed in the report.

Tillman has pleaded not guilty and his case has yet to be resolved.

In the meantime, Tillman remains a fully licensed physician in Florida without any mention of the arrest on the Florida Department of Health's website. His official profile also says that he has never had his hospital privileges restricted in any way.

But that isn't true.

Within days of Tillman's arrest, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital suspended his privileges to practice there, issuing the following statement:

As an employee of Anesthesiology Associates, Dr. Tillman practiced at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, as well as other health care facilities in Tallahassee. Dr. Tillman treated patients in the Tallahassee Memorial Operating Room. Because of the allegations of this case, it should be noted that children arriving in the Operating Room are placed in a special pediatric waiting area. Dr. Tillman's privileges at TMH have been suspended at the request of Anesthesiology Associates pending the outcome of this investigation.

Tillman's employer, Anesthesiology Associates, took a proactive stance on the child sex allegations. The hospital where he worked, Tallahassee Memorial, took a proactive stance. But the state has done nothing to either prevent Tillman from practicing or to warn patients about the legal proceedings and the hospital restrictions.

Final question: How do you know whether your state is doing a great job disciplining doctors? There's no perfect way of answering this question because each state has a different set of laws and medical boards don't all have the same level of authority. A good starting point is Public Citizen's annual report on discipline by medical boards. By reviewing the latest one from April 2010, you can see how Florida has dropped in and out of the bottom 10 since 1999 but has never been a top performer.