Doctor Won't Face Jail Time For Dyeing Patient's Vagina Purple as a 'Joke'

Dr. Barry King, left, walks out of the courtroom with attorney Kelly Page, right, at the Mesa County Justice Center 
A former Mesa County gynecologist who dyed a patient's vagina purple in what he called a "joke" has avoided jail time as part of a plea deal and will be allowed to continue practicing medicine.
Dr. Barry W. King, 58, on Friday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of harassment as part of a deferred judgment and sentence in connection with the incident, which involves his former employee who came to him for medical advice after growing concerned that her cancer was back. Under the deferred judgment and sentence negotiated by Mesa County prosecutor Sally Colloton and Denver-based defense attorney Kelly Page, King's conviction will be dismissed if he doesn't get into trouble in the next two years.
King's victim on Friday told Mesa County Judge Michael Grattan that King's case arose in early 2017, when he was still practicing medicine in Mesa County. The woman, a breast cancer survivor who years earlier had undergone a double mastectomy, said she grew worried when she found a lesion on her vagina.
Her own gynecologist had retired and she hadn't yet found a new doctor. So she turned to King for help.
The woman said King seemed concerned for her and agreed to give her an exam.
"It's really difficult as a woman to see an OB/GYN doctor. You're in a really vulnerable position," the woman told Grattan. "There was a level of comfort because I did believe he was my friend."
At the end of the exam, the woman said, King said something odd.
"He said, 'When you get home tonight, I want you to have (your husband) take a look at it," she said.
The woman's husband wasn't a doctor, and King didn't know him well.
That night, when the woman used the bathroom at home, she said she saw the purple color on her toilet paper. She said she immediately recognized it as gentian violet, a dye that used to be used to treat medical issues including yeast infections and thrush.
The woman said she was confused because she hadn't heard of the dye being used for years, but since she was working in a more administrative side of King's practice, she thought maybe she had missed something.
The next day at work, the woman said King seemed different.
"He was really giddy," the woman said. "I immediately noticed his demeanor was odd."
When the topic of her exam and King's use of gentian violet came up, King spilled his news.
"He said, '... It was a joke,'" the woman told Grattan. "It was a joke for (my husband)."
The woman was taken aback.
As the day wore on, though, she realized that King had told other people in their office about his "joke," which she told Grattan she considered a violation of her privacy rights.
She said she also believes the end goal of King's prank was that she would have sex with her husband while she still had purple dye in her genital areas.
"I was sexually objectified as a prank on my husband in hopes that his penis would be stained purple," she told Grattan. "That's disgusting."
While the woman was embarrassed and angry, she didn't report King.
"I didn't want to ruin his life," she said. "I was just going to get another job and leave, like most victims do."
Eventually, the woman confided in another friend, who told her he had a duty to report the incident.
Police got involved, initially investigating the incident as a sexual assault. The woman said prosecutors told her they didn't think they could prove sexual intent, so King was ultimately charged with harassment, a misdemeanor.
"That's why we're here with the class three misdemeanor," the victim told Grattan. "Because I cannot attest to the status of his penis."
On Friday, King agreed to the plea, which also required him to perform 100 hours of useful public service, write a letter of apology to the victim, and give $500 to the Western Slope Center for Children.
King was allowed to keep his medical license, although the Colorado Medical Board wrote a letter of admonition for "unprofessional conduct," after negotiations with King's lawyer. The board required King to take a course on professional boundaries and ethics. King completed the three-day course in June at the University of California, Irvine, and followed up with a daylong seminar in October, the letter said.
King, formerly of Colorado West WomanCare of the Grand Valley, has since moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he is now working as a doctor on a military base. According to Page, King is mentoring younger doctors on the base.
The victim said the ordeal has been "really horrific and humiliating." She said the incident also cost her socially when mutual friends and colleagues chose sides, and described King as being "like a frat boy playing a prank and hazing me."
"I want to know where Dr. King's moral compass went," she said.
King didn't make any statement or apology Friday in court, but Page told Grattan her client is remorseful.
"I know that if Dr. King could go back to January 2017 he wouldn't have acted in the way he did," Page said.
Grattan accepted the plea agreement, and told King it was clear his lawyer had worked out "an amazing deal" that will allow him to move forward while not requiring the victim to go through the embarrassment of trial.
"But, oh my God," Grattan said.
Grattan referred to the victim's comparison of King as acting like a frat boy.
"Maybe it's as mature as a frat boy," Grattan said. "... You can't be doing this stuff."
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