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Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:00 am

Doctor gets no jail time for assault

Given 4-year suspended sentence

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

A Huntington doctor who admitted sexually assaulting a former employee won't have to serve jail time, but he will have to wear an ankle bracelet for two years.

Dr. John C. Mathew was given a four-year suspended sentence Monday after a three-hour hearing.

Huntington Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hakes ordered Mathew to spend two years on electronic monitoring, requiring him to wear an ankle bracelet as part of home detention. The judge also ordered Mathew, 64, to register as a sex offender for 10 years and had Mathew's convictions entered into court record as felonies instead of misdemeanors.

Mathew and his lawyer, Robert Gevers, sought a suspended sentence and asked that the charges be reduced to misdemeanors. Huntington County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jamie Groves asked for a three-year sentence with one year suspended and two years behind bars.

“I was happy and disappointed with the verdict,” Groves said by phone after the sentence. 

Mathew pleaded guilty in February to two counts of sexual battery. One of those counts was amended from an original count of rape.

In September, the state Medical Licensing Board suspended Mathew's license pending the outcome of his criminal case. Mathew must apply to have his license reinstated, Groves said.

Mathew admitted sexually assaulting a former employee who was also a patient.

The woman told Huntington police detectives in January 2016 the office environment included verbal abuse when she began but changed to unwelcome back rubs and sexual abuse during examinations. She told detectives that Mathew first tried to assault her a few years ago, less than a year after she began working for him at Huntington Medical Group, 1601 N. Jefferson St., in Huntington.

She was sick, the woman said in police reports, and Mathew agreed to examine her. When he did so, he tried to pull up her shirt and bra, something that is not typical in an exam, the woman said in the police reports. Mathew stopped when the woman gave him a look, according to the reports.

The woman told detectives that Mathew assaulted her in 2015 after pulling her into an examination room and insisting on looking at her stomach. When he had her on an exam room table, Mathew used his hand to assault her, the woman said in the police reports.

She also accused Mathew of coercing her into an exam room, one day before she went to police, under the pretense that he wanted to check her throat because her voice had become hoarse. While alone in the exam room, the woman said Mathew again assaulted her, according to the police reports.

She told police that while she worked at the office, Mathew came up behind her and grabbed her chest multiple times.

Several of her co-workers warned her about being alone with him. She stayed because she needed the work experience, she told detectives in police reports.

Mathew is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed in Allen Superior Court in December.

Robin and Gary Reiber sued Mathew, Curo Health Services LLC and Southern Care Hospice Inc. Southern Care hired Robin Reiber as a registered nurse case manager in April 2015, the lawsuit said.

The Reibers allege in the lawsuit Mathew repeatedly made unwelcome verbal and physical sexual ad­vances toward Robin Reiber and touched her in an unwelcome, rude and sexually motivated manner. Mathew was employed by Southern Care as its medical director, the lawsuit said.

In October 2015, Robin Reiber filed a charge with the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission, alleging sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of her rights and city ordinances.

The Reibers are seeking an unspecified amount in damages. The case is pending.

jchapman@jg.net