Dr. Solomon calls ex-patient's charges 'extortion' nTC He vows to fight $50 million sex suit

August 04, 1993|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,Staff Writer

Dr. Neil Solomon, the chairman of a gubernatorial commission on drug abuse, has accused a former patient and her attorney of trying to smear him and extort millions of dollars through a lawsuit charging him with sexual misconduct.

"Some people would call this just another abuse of our legal system," Dr. Solomon said. "I personally feel it is more like extortion."

In a written statement, Dr. Solomon promised to "aggressively and vigorously" fight charges contained in a $50 million lawsuit filed Friday by a Baltimore County woman and her husband, whose names were sealed in court documents.

The lawsuit was filed in Baltimore Circuit Court and the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office.

The suit charges that Dr. Solomon induced the woman to engage in sex with him on numerous occasions since he began treating her for an unspecified condition in his private practice in 1988. The suit charges that Dr. Solomon asked the woman during some therapy sessions to "perform grossly deviant and offensive sexual practices."

The couple also alleged that he required her to ingest mind-altering drugs and wine "to diminish her ability to resist his advances."

Dr. Solomon, 61, said that friends and relatives have suggested that the suit was timed to coincide with reports that he is exploring the possibility of running for governor.

"It is clear that the motive is money: a $50 million jackpot for the attorney and anyone else she can encourage to join in this litigation lottery," Dr. Solomon said.

"I say that if this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Here's how it could work: A disturbed person targets a high-profile person, selects a willing attorney, mounts outrageous charges that come down to a matter of personal word and sits back and waits for a payday."

Dr. Solomon charged that the plaintiffs' lawyer, Joann L. Suder of Baltimore, called to advise him to contact his insurance company and settle the lawsuit quickly.

"No settlement discussions took place," Ms. Suder said yesterday,adding that she merely informed him of the suit and asked him how he wanted the legal papers to be served. She said she suggested that he call his malpractice insurer -- a routine step that doctors take when sued.

"To even suggest that the nature of the case filed against him or the timing has any political motivation is absurd," Ms. Suder said.

The patient claims that she began working in Dr. Solomon's office while she was undergoing treatment. Recently, she had a nervous breakdown and revealed the relationship to her husband, who urged her to come forward, the suit says.

Dr. Solomon was Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene from 1969 to 1979.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed him in 1991 to head his Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Last year, the governor asked him to chair a working group that devised legislative proposals for health care reform.

Dr. Solomon has a private practice in Towson, specializing in weight control, allergy, fitness and smoking cessation. He developed and marketed the Slice of Life Weight Loss Program and has written several books including "The Truth about Weight Control" and "Doctor Solomon's Easy, No Risk Diet."

He writes a syndicated medical column that is distributed nationally by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and appears weekly in The Evening Sun.

Page Boinest, the governor's spokeswoman, said yesterday that Mr. Schaefer stands by his friend.

"Basically, we have an individual who's filed a lawsuit, a single allegation that stacks up against a lifetime of service," she said. "The publicity is distressing. Anyone who is a friend would have to feel that."

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