A former doctor from the Palm Coast Urgent Care facility was arrested on January 16 following a months-long investigation by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. Several patients have accused 59-year-old Florence Fruehan of inappropriately touching them during appointments. Fruehan has also previously been charged four times with offenses related to patient sexual abuse, but all of those charges were dropped.
Prior to his arrest this week, Fruehan had already surrendered his medical license as part of an agreement reached with the Florida Department of Health after a patient reported that he'd groped her last year. Since 1994, He has been charged four times in criminal cases involving patients. The most recent dropped charges were because the incidents were beyond the statute of limitations.
The most recent charges are not specifically sex offenses, but "battery on a person 65 years or older," which is a felony. The incidents which brought these charges are sexual in nature, but have surpassed the statute of limitations for sex offenses in Florida.
Fruehan was arrested after two victims, ages 77 and 74, reported that Freuhan touched them sexually without their consent and without a medical purpose during appointments in 2016 and 2017. These victims also said that Fruehan repeatedly called them following the assaults.
Fruehan is currently being held on a $10,000 bond.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard helps survivors of sexual abuse find justice in civil lawsuits. We've asked him to discuss the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals:
We all expect medical facilities to be safe places where trusted professionals will provide us with the best available medical care. While this is usually the case, some medical professionals are sexual predators who exploit the trust of their patients in order to sexually assault them. These heinous crimes traumatize the victims and those close to them, along with damaging the public trust in medical professionals. We must make sure that these predators are brought to justice, that those abused and affected by abuse get the support they need, and that negligent medical facilities are held accountable for failing to keep their patients safe.
In many cases of doctor sexual abuse, the victims have grounds for a lawsuit against the facility where the abuse occurred. For example, a medical facility might be deemed negligent and held liable for damages in a lawsuit for failing to report allegations of sexual misconduct to authorities or for hiring a doctor or nurse with a history of sexual misconduct.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of doctor sexual abuse, we understand the difficulties your family is facing. If you'd like to learn more about how you can find justice by taking legal action, get in touch with one of our experienced sexual assault survivors attorneys for a free consultation.