From the Kansas City Star:
A suburban Kansas City doctor for decades sexually assaulted women and girls, mostly from Amish communities, under the guise of performing routine breast and pelvic exams, prosecutors said Monday.
David B. Clark, 70, of Independence, was charged with six felonies in Jackson County Circuit Court based on a long-running investigation led by the FBI. He is accused of assaulting patients at his Health+Plus clinic in Oak Grove, a town of about 8,500 people, 30 miles east of Kansas City.
As to what Clark is alleged to have done, more details can be found at the story link above. Warning, a lot of it is truly stomach-turning.
Exploiting the vulnerable
The story in fact dates to last summer, when Clark’s offices were raided by the FBI. Few details were given in that reporting however.
Many Amish people are steady patrons of chiropractors. This may take the form of regular visits to a local practitioner, or home visits. Some even travel significant distances for treatment.
Doctors (and those in “doctor-like” professions) of course are acting from positions of authority. And for someone from an Amish background, I’d imagine this sense of authority would be amplified. Not only is this a person from a learned (or supposedly learned) outsider profession, he is also not from the Amish culture. His ways are not Amish ways.
Likely this is an even more advantageous position from which a predator can exploit victims. If he does something strange…well maybe that’s just the way it’s done in this profession. Such a person can more easily take advantage of naïveté and lack of knowledge about the world. And it goes without saying, that’s even more the case when it’s children. More from the story along those lines:
Authorities allege Clark concealed the sexual abuse from his patients by saying his actions were medically necessary. He also “targeted” girls and women from Amish communities who would have little if any experience with a gynecologist or obstetrician, the affidavit says.
Marketing health to the Amish
It should be noted that not all of his victims were Amish, but it appears most were. Clark seems to have gotten well-ensconced in the places he operated. Here’s more on how Clark marketed himself to Amish communities:
While Clark was licensed as a chiropractor, his Health+Plus clinic advertises a variety of services under the banner of a “holistic alternative health and wellness center.”
Its website, parts of which were inaccessible Monday afternoon, offers general wellness consultation and diagnosis based on “latest scientific methods” paired with “traditional approaches.”
Clark presented himself to patients as a “naturopath,” according to the FBI affidavit, promising a style of medicine that Amish people are often drawn to. No such classification exists as a medical license in Missouri.
For a variety of reasons alternative medicine appeals to many Amish. And this sounds like just the type of practitioner that can get a foothold in Amish circles. Once you are in, and you have references to family and other community members that have used your services, business will grow.
Clark was apparently popular not just in the area, but around the country. From last summer’s story on the raid:
“They come by train, they have drivers,” said Moon.
Sue said it’s a well known fact Clark is very popular with the Amish.
“They come here from all over the country,” said Moon. “They stay for a few days a lot of the times. The whole family will come so – we’ve seen all ages.”
The other odd thing, looking at his mug shot, Clark has an Amish-like appearance, with a beard and a shirt that looks like what an Amishman would wear. Visual touches to put his clientele at ease and build trust?
How did Clark operate for so long?
Clark was allegedly at this a long time – sounds like for over 30 years:
Charges filed against Clark concern five women, four of whom were minors at the time of the alleged abuse. The earliest criminal allegation dates to July 1999, though authorities allege Clark is believed to have committed similar crimes against “dozens of victims” since the 1980s.
One of the former patients, identified as Victim 1, recalled visiting Clark for the first time when she was under age 14. She said the doctor acted in a different manner depending on whether her mother was in the room.
I admit I also wonder why it took so long for this to be discovered. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not to say it’s easy to come out with these allegations. I’m sure it’s anything but that.
But it sounds like Clark operated in the community over multiple generations, with many victims. Thankfully someone here had the courage to bring this to light.
This is a sickening story and I hate to think it, but it makes me wonder how many other cases like this might be out there in Amish communities.