Popular Pediatrician Faces Child Pornography Charges, Leaving Community Shocked
by Michele Zipp
Several communities have been shocked by allegations that a long-time and trusted pediatrician was arrested on child pornography charges. Dr. Daniel O'Hern, 64, practiced pediatrics for about 30 years until his retirement. He was a partner at Dunning Road Pediatrics in Middletown, New York, and then Crustal Run Healthcare in the same town until he retired in 2011. He wrote a parenting book Common Sense Pediatrics for Parents, and has a series of YouTube videos to help parents with everything from pacifiers to helping your child read. He was a resident of Goshen, New York, and most recently lived in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
Child pornography was traced to his computer by investigators. The details are alarming. This is a man who has treated and cared for children for his entire professional career -- a man who families trusted -- being brought up on these heinous charges. His former patients are shocked at what is being revealed.
Jen Munger, now an adult with children of her own, was a patient of Dr. O'hern's when she was a child. She told me, "I honestly have nothing bad to say about him and don't feel violated in the least. These charges are all so new, so I think the public should just let it play out and see what happens. Innocent until proven guilty, right? It may all turn out to be a misunderstanding or it may in fact be just what it seems. I'm still unsure."
Michelle Gillespie was also a patient of his when she was a child, and trusted him so much she brought her own children there. Gillespie shared with me, "I went to him when I was little and I am 37 years old now. Then when I had my kids we followed his practice from when he was on Dunning Road to Crystal Run Road. He was very good and we never had a problem with him. There were three doctors but we always scheduled appointments to see him because he was a very good doctor." But she did notice a change. "Towards the end, when their practice was about to shut down, things things got a little ugly. Dr. O'hern and Dr. Solomon were not getting along and as a patient you could sense it. Other than that he was always very good and very professional."
Ohern was arrested and charged with possession and distribution of child pornographic images and videos -- both felonies. If he is convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison on the possession charge and up to 20 years on the distribution charge. There were "at least" 47 files of "investigative interest" including "prepubescent females" in sexual situations with adult males.
I cannot imagine the concern his patients are experiencing right now. I cannot imagine being a parent whose child went to this doctor. While we don't know all the details, the fact that he was arrested with this type of material is alarming enough. I'm thankful most all of the responses I'm seeing within my circle of friends who were patients or had children who were patients are shocked by these allegations. Hopefully there weren't any wrongdoings with any child within his care. With the news of five adults arrested for running a "daycare" and putting the children in their care in sexual situations for a child porn operation, I'm deeply concerned. We want to think that things like this cannot happen, but they happen.
There were children in those videos. Children were being harmed and he allegedly purchased and distributed this kind of material.
As the investigation continues, more details will emerge, and there may be more patients who come forward that may change the case.
What are your thoughts on this case?
Image via Tim Pearce/Flickr