Doctors group supports faxers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Doctors group supports faxers

January 24, 2006

Albany -- The Dougherty County Medical Society today chose sides in the ongoing case between Phoebe and their two biggest critics, and they chose Dr. John Bagnato and Charles Rehberg.

The doctor's group called the harassment and assault indictments against the Phoebe Factoid authors outrageous. They're also calling for citizens in south Georgia to speak out as well.

The Dougherty County Medical Society is standing behind the acts of Dr. John Bagnato and Charles Rehberg who face charges for sending harassing faxes with Phoebe Factoids to several individuals.

The Phoebe Factoids were critical of phoebe Putney hospital and the administration.

"I want to express our outrage regarding the indictments of Dr. John Bagnato an Mr. Charles Rehberg for expressing their First Amendment rights," said Stephen McLendon, Former President of the Dougherty County Medical Society.

The doctor's group, which includes 150 area physicians, today questioned why the two were charged at all. "First of all to come down and examine the merits of these indictments, I mean why are these two private citizens being indicted in the first place," McLendon said.

But they're also questioning District Attorney Ken Hodges' role in the case. "Also we think it's curious that a bill for the telephone records was sent to the law firm that represents Phoebe Health systems," said McLendon.

The District Attorney says sending a bill to a victim, while uncommon, is sometimes done. "We've done it particularity in the RICO cases we've done in the past several years," said Hodges. "Whenever we have a victim that does have a substantial amount of financial resources and the means of which to do this, versus my office which does not have a lot of money in it's budget."

Hodges says It's been his policy since he took office to always share information with the victims he represents, in this case Phoebe. "I was not aware initially that the bill was paid by Phoebe, but I've confirmed that with my investigator it was at his request but it's not anything unusual, and I certainly don't see anything wrong with what he did."

The Medical Society wants to hear what south Georgia has to say on the matter and encouraged citizen to write their local and state representatives.

McLendon said, "I would like for our public officials to be made aware of this and also to gauge the public sentiment."

The Dougherty County Medical Society is made up of 150 area doctors. They voted at their meeting last week to release today's statements.

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