Solomon yields reins of 3 commissions He'll fight ex-patients' sex allegations

September 10, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Dr. Neil Solomon, a well-known Baltimore physician who has been considering a 1994 gubernatorial bid, has resigned as chairman of three state commissions, citing a need to defend himself against allegations of sexual improprieties with three former patients.

Dr. Solomon, 61, also abruptly canceled an appearance before a political club this week, again offering as the reason a need to prepare his defense against the charges.

He submitted his resignation to Gov. William Donald Schaefer in a letter dated Sept. 2, vowing to fight the "outrageous" allegations that have been detailed in three lawsuits filed against him since July in Baltimore Circuit Court and the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office.

"Because I refuse to let those outrageous claims undermine the good work of the commissions on drug and alcohol abuse, AIDS and health care reform, I hereby resign my chairmanship of these commissions, effective immediately," Dr. Solomon wrote.

Mr. Schaefer accepted the resignation "with regret" said Page W. Boinest, the governor's press secretary. "The governor was appreciative of Dr. Solomon's long service to his administration and previous administrations.

"It was Dr. Solomon's decision; it was voluntary," Ms. Boinest said. Other government officials familiar with Dr. Solomon's situation also said that he did not appear to have been forced to quit.

Efforts to reach Dr. Solomon for comment have been unsuccessful.

He was to have appeared Wednesday night before the Columbia Democratic Club, a group that has been hearing from gubernatorial aspirants in recent months.

But Wanda Hurt, president of the Howard County club, said his office canceled Friday after repeatedly assuring the group he would attend, citing his need to mount a defense against the lawsuits.

His reasons for backing out of the engagement also were reflected in what he told Mr. Schaefer.

"There is one thing which my accusers and their attorney did not count on -- the will of me and my family to fight these charges," Dr. Solomon wrote the governor. "This defense does not come without a price -- it will consume all my time and energy and, therefore, not allow me to pursue the important work which you have delegated to me over the years."

Three women have filed suit against him, each alleging that he lured her into a sexual relationship after she became his patient.

The women, all represented by Baltimore attorney Joanne L. Suder, are seeking millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Maryland law caps awards for pain and suffering at $350,000.

The names of all three women have been sealed in court records.

Dr. Solomon resides in Baltimore and maintains a private practice in Towson where he specializes in weight control, allergies, fitness and smoking cessation.

He was Maryland's first secretary of health and mental hygiene, serving between 1969 and 1979. In 1991, Governor Schaefer appointed him to chair the governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission -- a role that was expanded to include the AIDS and health care reform panels.

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

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