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TMCNet:  Gag order sought in doctor's court case

[November 05, 2009]

Gag order sought in doctor's court case

BEAVER, Nov 05, 2009 (Beaver County Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An attorney for a Bridgewater doctor accused of indecently assaulting several of his patients is seeking an emergency gag order, citing media coverage of the doctor's legal woes.

Specifically, attorney Bernard Rabik cited Bridgewater Police Chief Doug Adams' Oct. 27 comment to The Times and WPXI-TV about Dr. Robert Knapp: "In my eyes, he definitely crossed the line. He's a predator." Last month, Bridgewater police charged Knapp with several counts of indecent assault, after several women came forward and said Knapp molested them during medical procedures at his office.

Knapp, an endocrinologist with a practice at 701 Sharon Road, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces a Nov. 20 preliminary hearing.

Rabik wrote that on Oct. 1, Bridgewater police filed one case against Knapp, charging him with indecent assault.

Even before Knapp was served with the paperwork, according to Rabik, WPXI-TV had talked to Knapp's accuser and posted a story on its Web site with the headline, "Woman speaks to WPXI, accuses doctor of groping her." Rabik also pointed to The Times and WPXI-TV being present at District Judge Tim Finn's office on Oct. 27 when Knapp was charged with five additional indecent assault charges.

In his motion for the gag order, Rabik enclosed copies of Times articles about Knapp.

Rabik also wrote that Adams' statements "are inflammatory, reprehensible, egregious, defamatory, vexatious and detrimental to Robert Knapp's medical practice, and ultimately prejudicial to Robert C. Knapp's presumption of innocence." Rabik noted that Knapp has been cooperative with investigators, including turning over information without any objections.

Rabik wrote that any further media interviews with any of Knapp's accusers "will serve no legitimate purpose except to interfere with the rights of (Knapp) to a fair trial and impartial jury." In his proposed order, Rabik wrote that a gag order should be placed on Knapp, Bridgewater police officers, county detectives, any attorney involved in the case, any of Knapp's accusers or any prosecution witnesses.

Judge John P. Dohanich set a 9:30 a.m. Nov. 23 hearing on the gag order request.

Bill Vidonic can be reached online at bvidonic@timesonline.com.

Lawsuit filed One of the women accusing Dr. Robert Knapp of sexual misconduct has begun a civil lawsuit in Beaver County Court.

A writ of summons was filed against Dr. Robert C. Knapp by husband and wife David and Mechelle Poling, both of 230 Dogwood Circle, Economy. David Poling is the mayor of Economy. A writ of summons is used to notify someone that they are being sued.

The document, filed on Oct. 9, does not contain any details about the accusations the Polings are making against Knapp. Also named as defendants in the document are nurse practitioner Diane S. Knapp, the doctor's wife, along with the Knapps' business, Knapp Medical Associates.

The Polings are being named despite the nature of the charges because they identified themselves in a public civil filing.

In the police filing, Knapp is accused of indecently assaulting Mechelle Poling during an Oct. 30, 2007, exam at his Bridgewater office.

To see more of Beaver County Times, Pa., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesonline.com. Copyright (c) 2009, Beaver County Times, Pa.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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