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Opinion: Dr. Philip Marler did nothing wrong but The Times did
Philip Marler
R. Philip Marler

It appears that The Times is more interested in ruining the reputation of a respected doctor in our community than in telling the whole story. 

Dr. Philip Marler has been the victim here, not some women who accused him of simple and sexual battery. The headline on Jan. 17 should have been, “Case will be dismissed against local doctor.”

These accusations, over 3 years old, first appeared on gainesvilletimes.com before Dr. Marler had a chance to respond. Then the headline appeared the next day in The Times which was factually incorrect. Dr. Marler was not fired. He continued to work for The Longstreet Clinic until he retired Dec. 31. 

The paper noted in that article that someone had tried to contact Dr. Marler. The reporter left a voice message at his home, but Dr. Marler was at work. When he returned home and received the message asking him for a response to the story, he checked gainesvilletimes.com where the report was already posted. There was no point in returning the call. 

Prudence and fairness should be more important than seeking a sensational headline.

In this inexcusably long process, no attorneys handling the civil or criminal accusations apparently wanted to go to court. Following depositions by the plaintiff’s lawyer, the civil suit was dismissed outright. 

In retrospect, Dr. Marler realized that apparently none of his accusers had undergone a simple physical exam.

All of the women were fully clothed. The reason for his apology is not that he did anything wrong but that he could have explained the entire exam more thoroughly.

Dr. Marler had always planned to retire at age 70 and had announced his retirement months earlier. 

Fortunately, Dr. Marler has many friends in our community who have supported him through this trying process, but unfortunately, The Times seemed more intent on destroying his reputation and selling newspapers.

Martha Nesbitt

Gainesville

Editor’s note: The charges against Dr. Philip Marler were brought by law enforcement and prosecutors, not by The Times. They were reported as they would have been for anyone else similarly charged. Marler’s employment status was corrected in a second-day article. Following the allegations, a decision was made to “change the physician coverage” at the clinic. As of Jan. 31, the case had not yet been dismissed. A pretrial diversion memorandum of understanding dated Dec. 20, 2019, lists conditions that must be met before it can be dismissed.