SEARHC’s Juneau Campus, pictured here on December 19, 2018, is located on Hospital Drive. Several women have accused a regional health consortium chiropractor of sexual abuse. (Jeremy Hsieh / KTOO)
Seven women have accused a former Juneau area chiropractor of sexually abusing them while working for the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC).
Jeffrey Fultz worked for SEARHC until 2020. Last April, Juneau police heard from a woman who said he had sexually abused her while he was receiving medical attention.
Initially, Fultz – who started from Jeff – faced three second-degree sexual assault charges and one harassment charge.
However, assistant district attorney Jessalyn Gillum said that after these charges were published three months ago, four other women came forward saying they had also been molested by Fultz.
“There are a few things that keep coming up. The first is the fact that regardless of the type of treatment they were expecting, they all had to undress, ”said Gillum.
She said there are other common threads between women’s stories as well. Gillum said several of the women described sexual contact disguised as normal medical care – making it difficult to distinguish between the two.
“It was the contact that made them uncomfortable or raised concerns about whether it was appropriate. And then, either through the defendant’s explanation of the reason for the contact, or through the individual patient simply assuming they were overly sensitive or just felt somehow overreacted, they convinced themselves that this was normal, ”said Gillum.
Six of the women are Native to Alaska. SEARHC is a non-profit, locally-run health consortium. The seventh accuser is a former colleague of Fultz, according to court records.
Maegan Bosak, a spokeswoman for the consortium, wrote in an email that Fultz was known to be charged with sexual assault and harassment. Bosak also wrote that Fultz was a federal employee who no longer had any connection with the company.
“SEARHC terminated Fultz’s assignment after patients complained about inappropriate behavior,” wrote Bosak.
According to court documents provided by Gillum on Friday, Fultz was given the option to resign from the SEARHC rather than being fired in the face of the criminal investigation.
Matthew Ione, SEARHC’s senior vice president and chief administrative officer, said in a prepared statement that the organization, which provides medical, dental, wellness, and social services to 27 communities in southeast Alaska, does not condone assault, harassment, or abusive behavior.
“Due to the ongoing criminal prosecution, we cannot comment on this specific issue. But we want to reassure our patients that they have the right to safe healthcare at SEARHC, ”said Ione. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that is the case. There are no exceptions. ”
In total, Fultz are charged eight sexual assault offenses and one alleged incidents between 2014 and 2020.
He was charged on Monday afternoon at the Juneau Courthouse on new charges, where he appeared on video.
Fultz is free on $ 25,000 bail and is allowed to live outside of New Mexico state, despite two of his alleged victims testifying last month that he will have to stay in town while the case goes through the judicial system.
Gillum asked the court to reconsider Fultz’s bail as he faces new charges. She requested a $ 25,000 cash bail increase and the arrest of Fultz, who would be returned to Juneau and held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Facility.
She said he was an escape risk and a risk to community members because there is no way for the state to monitor his behavior to ensure that he is not practicing massage therapy, physical therapy, or chiropractic and is working in the conditions that are current at the time Allegations have resulted in abuse.
Two of Fultz’s prosecutors also testified, including a woman who the courts called a CEL. identify
“I have come to know Mr. Fultz as very intelligent and highly manipulative,” she said. “The risk of further violence for us as victims is small, but I believe the risk for the community he lives in as well as our community is high.”
She asked to be taken back to Juneau and put his bail on a point he cannot afford. She requested that the court deny Fultz the opportunity to receive any form of medical care and that he be monitored if he is released on bail.
Both Gillum and CEL reiterated that the majority of Fultz’s accusers are from Alaska. CEL informed the court that it considered the alleged crimes to be racial abuse.
Another woman, who did not identify herself but was identified as a prosecutor by Gillum, also called for Fultz to be returned to Juneau and sent to jail.
“It was really hard for me to understand how Mr. Fultz is out and about and free to do what he’s doing,” she said.
She said that every day is a struggle and her entire family has felt an impact from her contact with Fultz.
“I have to find a medical facility because of him that I feel comfortable in now,” she said. “I just think the conditions must be more serious for him because these crimes are very serious.”
Fultz’s attorney Natasha Norris said he was willing to pay a higher bail and was cooperating with the court throughout the process.
“We understand the stakes have gone up, and if he does, he’ll be ready to pay another $ 15,000 in cash,” said Norris. “That’ll pretty much outsmart him financially.”
Judge Daniel Schally agreed with Norris, saying that Fultz is cooperating with the court.
“Past behavior is also an indicator of future behavior, and in that regard past behavior is good. Now, on the other side of this coin, in view of the very serious and increased number of allegations here, I understand that the state could just as well argue that this is also an indicator of future behavior – and taking the point, “said Schally.
Schally said he disagreed that returning from Fultz to Juneau was a good idea.
“I honestly like the idea that Mr. Fultz is not around these people in Juneau,” he said. “He’s not here, he won’t be here based on the current court orders. In my opinion, this gives a considerable degree of certainty that future behavior of this kind, as it is claimed here, is not possible in this community. ”
Schally said he understood that people who accuse Fultz of abuse firmly believe he should be in jail, but that wish was not enough for the court to have him incarcerated.
“It just doesn’t work that way,” he said. “And so it does not work before the trial if – at this point, although there is substantial evidence for these allegations – the presumption of innocence applies.”
Eventually, Schally ordered Fultz not to practice medicine anywhere, required him to pay $ 15,000 more in cash, and said he could not contact any of his accusers.
Fultz’s next hearing is September 8th.
The Juneau Police Department is encouraging anyone who is aware of this case, or has similar allegations, to call their Criminal Investigation Department or AWARE – the domestic and sexual violence survivor protection and support organization – at 907-586-6623.
This story has been updated with details and comments from Monday’s indictment
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Jeffrey Fultz was referred to as a doctor. He was a chiropractor.