Doctor fined, suspended for sex misconduct

A Spartanburg plastic surgeon has had his license suspended and has been fined $25,000 by the state board of medical examiners for the inappropriate touching of patients and other medical misconduct.

Thomas Luther Roberts III, 63, was also publicly reprimanded for his actions.

Roberts engaged in "sexual misconduct" with some patients, walked out of the operating room during surgery with others, falsified medical records, let nurses do procedures he should have done and touched female patients without wearing gloves, the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners said Wednesday.

"This was a well-above-average fine for a professional licensing board," said Jim Knight, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. It oversees the board.

Roberts apologized Wednesday.

"I truly regret the grief this has caused to those close to me and greatly appreciate the tremendous support provided to me from my family, staff, colleagues, patients, and friends," he said in a statement e-mailed to The State.

The LLR is an umbrella state agency that oversees a variety of professional licensing boards. It can hold hearings in allegations of misconduct and discipline wayward members.

The order - along with a statement of facts in the case - was made public Wednesday. The order said Roberts waived the right to a hearing during which he could have disputed the charges.

The board's order listed a number of conditions that Roberts would have to meet to get his license back, and Roberts said he has met nearly all of them.

"I have met all requirements the board has asked of me and look forward to having the final component of a monitoring program approved and initiated, and therefore complete all board conditions," he said.

The order also said Roberts had undergone sessions at a clinic where doctors who may be engaging in questionable conduct can be evaluated and treated. Knight said the institute is in Atlanta.

At the clinic, Roberts was found to likely have a disorder called "excessive daytime sleepiness" and a range of "occupational problems," including sexual misconduct, the board's order said.

The order said Roberts is required to be in bed every night by 10 p.m. He must also limit his alcohol consumption to not more than a half-glass a day and undergo lie detector tests.

Roberts must complete an ethics course before getting his license back, the order said.

He must also, in addition to his $25,000 fine, pay $1,889 to the medical licensing board to cover the costs of investigating his case.

"The sanction imposed is designed not to punish (Roberts), but to protect the life, health and welfare of the people at large," the board's order said.

In his statement Wednesday, Roberts said the clinic he attended has concluded he can now "continue to practice plastic surgery without posing any danger to patients or staff."