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Why did Idaho licensing boards sanction one person for alleged sex offenses, but not the other?

A surgeon and a chiropractor both stand accused of sexually victimizing patients. Neither has been convicted. One is back to work; the other one swiftly was suspended by a licensing board. (Getty Images)
A surgeon and a chiropractor both stand accused of sexually victimizing patients. Neither has been convicted. One is back to work; the other one swiftly was suspended by a licensing board. (Getty Images)

Idaho chiropractor immediately had license suspended, while orthopedic surgeon went back to work

Editor’s note: This story includes descriptions of alleged sex crimes.

A longtime orthopedic surgeon in Boise was back in the operating room last week, despite criminal charges that allege he sexually abused patients.

A chiropractor in Boise, who faces criminal charges of sex offenses against his patients, had his license immediately suspended.

Why the different responses to similar allegations against Idaho health care providers?

A state agency that houses the professional licensing boards for medical doctors and chiropractors was unable to explain the boards’ decisions. At least two different Idaho laws protect the confidentiality of complaints and investigations into professional licensees, and a third law protects medical licensees specifically. The boards cannot even confirm the existence of a complaint or investigation into a licensee’s fitness, unless and until they issue a formal disciplinary action.

The public information officer for the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses offered a general statement:

“For instance, before a board can take action, it must consider the evidence/facts on a case-by-case basis,” Bob McLaughlin, spokesperson for the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, wrote in an email to the Idaho Capital Sun. “The board must consider the unique facts in a given situation and compare those facts to the board’s statutes, rules, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Notably, any action taken by a board must be based upon evidence obtained through an investigation. Our boards take disciplinary complaints and matters seriously and fully consider the evidence and applicable laws when determining how to proceed.”

The Sun asked whether Idaho’s laws offer the boards any guidance on what to consider — such as whether the crime charged is a felony or misdemeanor — as they decide whether to allow a health care provider to continue working in the community as their criminal case plays out in court.

An attorney for the division did not answer directly but pointed to a statute in the 2020 Occupational Licensing Reform Act regarding people who apply for a professional license in Idaho and who have a history of criminal convictions.

“It is not generally as simple as a misdemeanor or a felony, there are other factors involved. Again, (the statute) applies to applications not discipline, but it is a good guide to what the legislature wants boards to look at,” the attorney wrote.

The statute says boards cannot deny a license just because of a prior conviction, unless that conviction “is currently relevant” to that person’s fitness to be licensed for that profession. The statute says the licensing board should consider:

  • The nature and seriousness of the crime;
  • The relationship of the crime to the “ability, capacity and fitness required” in the profession;
  • How long ago the person committed the crime;
  • Evidence that the person has undergone rehabilitation or treatment; and
  • Any other relevant factor.

Accusations mount against Boise orthopedic surgeon

Prosecutors from the city of Boise charged Dr. Stanley Waters on Aug. 26 with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. They charged him Sept. 23 with an additional three counts. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

According to the charging documents, Waters is accused of:

  • on Feb. 14, squeezed a woman’s breast with both hands.
  • on March 23, rubbed a woman’s “foot on his penis causing his penis to become erect.”
  • on April 27, put his hand into a woman’s shirt, onto her breast and manipulated her nipple.
  • on July 11, squeezed a woman’s breast multiple times.
  • on Dec. 30, 2021, grabbed both sides of a woman’s buttocks and squeezed multiple times.

His license to practice medicine was unencumbered as of Sept. 30.
Waters is an independent doctor with his own orthopedic practice,Americana Orthopaedics, west of downtown Boise. He is not employed by a hospital or health system. He continues to have privileges to perform surgeries at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center and was back in the operating room at St. Luke’s as of last week.

“At this time, Dr. Stanley Waters has returned from a voluntary leave of absence from caring for patients within St. Luke’s Health System,” St. Luke’s Public Relations Manager Christine Myron told the Sun in an email. “Safety for our patients and staff is our top priority: our nurses and support staff work together in tandem with our providers so that physicians are not isolated with patients in their care. St. Luke’s medical staff leadership is aware of the allegations involving Dr. Waters’ private practice clinic, and we are closely monitoring the situation as it develops.”

Waters and his attorney, Chuck Peterson, could not be reached for comment by the Sun. An employee at Peterson’s office relayed a message from Peterson that he had “no comment on the case.” An employee at Americana Orthopaedics said she would relay a message but did not think Waters would be interested in an interview.

Felony charges allege chiropractor recorded patients

Justin M. Anderson was charged Sept. 22 with two felony counts of video voyeurism involving his patients.

According to the charges filed by the Ada County prosecutor, Anderson is accused of installing a camera or allowing one to be installed in a place where he directed two patients to change their clothes, on Feb. 11 and Sept. 16.

Anderson hadn’t yet entered a plea in the case as of Sept. 30, having asked the court for time to consult with a private attorney.

Anderson owns the chiropractic clinic Optimal Spine and Posture in northwest Boise. He could not be reached at the office Friday, and his attorney, Charles Crafts, did not respond to a written message for comment.

The day after Anderson was charged, the Idaho Board of Chiropractic Physicians issued an emergency suspension of his license.

The order said the board can suspend a license in “a situation involving an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare requiring immediate agency action.”

There was an immediate danger, the board said, based on the “nature and severity” of the charges, the “trust and confidence patients place” in their chiropractors, and the potential for Anderson “to abuse or exploit his patients.”

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.