A former staff physician at Hall County’s health clinic has been accused of inappropriate conduct with seven different women, according to court documents filed Wednesday, May 2.
According to the accusation filed in Hall County State Court, the allegations against Robert Philip Marler include using a stethoscope to touch a woman’s nipple, jiggling another woman’s breast and sliding his hand across a third woman’s pelvic area.
Marler faces three counts of sexual battery and five counts of simple battery. The incidents allegedly took place between July and December 2016, according to court documents.
“For almost 18 months we have been kept in the dark about what the allegations were against Dr. Marler,” Marler’s attorney Robert Rubin wrote in an email. “Finally, we have been provided with the names of patients and allegations by the prosecuting attorney. I can say unequivocally that Dr. Marler’s conduct before, during, and after examinations has always been professional and within guidelines set by the Georgia Medical Board and other professional organizations. The information contained in the accusation is instructive in that it shows that neither the patients nor the prosecution are aware of the standards for how a doctor takes a femoral pulse or listens to a heart.”
Rubin added he expects to “educate the parties involved to show them that Dr. Marler acted professionally and properly at all times and that he did not commit any crimes of simple or sexual battery upon the complainants.”
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI’s help in December 2016 regarding “allegations of inappropriate contact” at the health center, said GBI Region 8 Special Agent in Charge Kim Williams.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said there would be no comment.
Assistant Solicitor General Pro Tempore Lalaine Briones filed a “notice of intent to present evidence of previous sexual assault,” including narratives of two alleged incidents at the County Government Family Health Center and the Longstreet Clinic.
According to the notice, a woman went to Marler in April 2016 for a preventative health visit.
“During the exam, (the woman) felt the defendant place his hand close to her vagina on her leg over her clothing,” according to the notice. “The defendant then used his two fingers to move in a circular motion close to her vagina without her consent. The defendant also brushed his arm across her breast and placed the stethoscope underneath her breast.”
The notice also alleged Marler “abruptly stuck his hand” in the shirt of a woman being examined in June 2014 at the Longstreet Clinic.
“The defendant grabbed (the woman’s) nipple with his forefingers and began twisting her nipple,” according to the notice. “(The woman) did not return to see the defendant after this incident.”
The Longstreet Clinic said in a statement it “has no record of any complaint or accusation of this nature from a patient with regard to Dr. Marler from June 2014, and we are not aware of any details of the accusation being made.”
Rubin did not specifically respond to allegations within the notice.
Marler provided medical care through a contractual relationship between The Longstreet Clinic, Healthwell Solutions and Hall County.
Rubin said Marler was not fired and did not retire from The Longstreet Clinic.
When the allegations surfaced in December, Healthwell Solutions and The Longstreet Clinic made the decision to “change the physician coverage” at the clinic, said the clinic’s human resources director, Jullie King.
In January 2015, Marler “transitioned his practice to the provision of medical care” for the Hall County clinic through a contractual relationship between The Longstreet Clinic and Healthwell Solutions, King said.