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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019 6 months ago

Florence Fruehan, former Palm Coast doctor, arrested over charges that he groped patients

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Fruehan was charged four times in the past, but the charges were always dropped.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Florence Fruehan, 59 and formerly a doctor at Palm Coast Urgent Care, was arrested the afternoon of Jan. 16 after a months-long Flagler County Sheriff's Office investigation into reports from numerous patients who said he had touched them inappropriately during their office visits.

Fruehan had already surrendered his medical license through an agreement with the Florida Department of Health after a patient reported last year that he'd groped her. He's been charged four times times in criminal cases since 1994, each time seeing the charges dropped — most recently because instances of groping reported by local women were beyond the statute of limitations. 

Fruehan isn't being charged with a sex crime this time: He's being charged with two counts of "battery on a person 65 years of age or older," a felony.

"The incidents, while sexual in nature, did not meet the statutory requirements for a sex crime," an FCSO news release stated.

Deputies who arrested Fruehan Jan. 16 were acting on two orders issued by a Flagler County judge, related to reports from two victims, one 77 and the other 74, who reported that Fruehan had touched them without their consent and without serving any medical purpose during office visits occurring in 2016 and 2017.

The 74-year-old reported that in March 2016, Fruehan pulled her intro a back room in the building after her office visit, unbuttoned her shirt, and groped her breasts, according to an FCSO charging affidavit.

She was in shock and decided never to go back. He called her two weeks later at midnight asking her why she hadn't set another appointment. She told him she'd changed her insurance, and hung up, according to the charging affidavit. He called her once again, and she again hung up on him.

The 77-year-old reported that in March 2017, she went to Fruehan for a checkup and he placed a stethoscope directly on her nipple, held it there, and asked her her opinion of a particular sex act. She responded "I have no opinion," and left the practice. 

He then called her four times in the following days — three of the calls occurred in one night, between 8:37 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. — and left messages on her answering machine, in which he made statements such as, "I in no way meant to be demeaning with you, I thought we could be frank," and said of another doctor, "I assure you he will not give you the care that you receive from this office over that time ... and I wish you wold have just had a discussion with me before you got so quickly in a. .... with the remarks I made."

The woman was alarmed by the calls and felt she didn't know what to expect next from Fruehan. 

She gave law enforcement officers a disk containment the messages after reading reports that another woman had accused Fruehan of sexual assault, according to the charging affidavit.

“Our detectives have not stopped working on this case since it was first reported to us,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in the news release. “There is still more work to be done but I am pleased that the State Attorney’s Office has moved forward on these two felony charges. I hope the victims feel that justice is being served.” 

 

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