Two key posts in Alabama were filled by doctors with checkered histories

Sunday, September 27, 1998
By Andrew Skolnick
Special to the Post-Dispatch

Montgomery, Ala. -- Correctional Medical Services filled two key jobs in the Alabama prison system with doctors who have troubled personal and professional histories.

The physicians are Dr. Gail Williams and Dr. Walter Mauney.

The state of Michigan revoked Williams' medical license in 1985 after finding that he had engaged in sexual acts with a psychiatric patient and falsely billed an insurance company for the treatment. The board also found that the psychiatrist lied under oath when he denied he had sex with any other patient.

But that and other professional problems didn't stop CMS from hiring Williams in 1994 as head of mental health services for the Alabama prison system.

Mauney pleaded guilty in 1979 of a sex crime in Tennessee. He received a sentence of 10 years in the state penitentiary, which was suspended.

Mauney also spent time in a drug treatment center from October 1994 to February 1995. Still, CMS hired Mauney as a medical director for one of Alabama's correction facilities shortly after his release from the drug center. He served until 1997 and was a defendant in the Calvin Moore wrongful death suit, which was settled in August.

A further look into Mauney's records show that he put misleading statements in his application about the nature of his sex conviction.

In Williams' case, a CMS official said the company believes it hired "the most qualified physician who applied for the job.''

The Williams hiring

After losing his medical license in Michigan in 1985, Williams found a job in 1990 as head of mental health services for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The state gave him a license restricted to practice in prisons or other surpervised settings.

But it revoked his license in November 1993 after he was accused of sexually battering and harassing a nurse and other female prison staff members. The women won a sexual harassment civil suit against the Department of Corrections.

Williams says he was the victim of "a power struggle'' and a conspiracy led by a nurse.

CMS hired Williams in November 1994 despite the fact that he had no medical license and had worked as a physician in just three of the previous eight years.

The following month, Alabama's Medical Licensing Commission granted Williams a medical license restricted to practice in Alabama's prisons.

Larry Linton, regional manager for the CMS Alabama office, said Williams' "experience in managing a statewide mental health program made him an ideal candidate. We were fully aware of his (discipline problems) and discussed them with the (Alabama) board of examiners."

CMS supervises and provides quarterly reports on Williams to the medical licensing board, Linton said.

"There hasn't been a single incident reported that even suggests Dr. Williams is anything less than what he needs to be, and that is a professional," he said.

Larrry Dixon, executive director of the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners, said the board had thoroughly reviewed his application and got assurances from CMS concerning how he would be supervised.

"I think that the board has placed sufficient safeguards to protect the patient population and for four years it appears that quality medical services have been provided without incident,'' Dixon said. "We have gotten nothing but exemplary quarterly reports from the other physicians he works with as well as from the Department of Corrections and CMS. I don't know what else can be demanded of us."

The Mauney hiring

Walter Mauney says he has tried to be a "good, caring doctor.'' But he may not have been honest with his employer.

In his job application with CMS, Mauney stated he once pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge for having sex with an 18-year-old when the age of consent was 19.

When recently asked if this was a truthful statement, Mauney said, "Yes. Absolutely. Why would I lie about that?"

Records from the Monroe County (Tenn.) Criminal Court show that in 1979, Mauney was charged by a Tennessee grand jury with three counts of having oral and "penetrating" sex with a 16-year-old "mentally defective" boy.

He pleaded guilty to one count of "crime against nature."

When asked about the discrepancy on his application, Mauney said that he thought the boy was 18 and blamed his crime on his drinking. Mauney said none of the acts that got him into trouble ever involved a patient.

"I've taken care of a lot of people over the years," he said. "I've tried to be a good, caring doctor."

Asked if CMS knew that Mauney had lied on his application, CMS spokeswoman Susan Adams repeatedly evaded reporters' questions.

CMS's chief medical officer, Dr. Louis Tripoli, said: "CMS believed that Dr. Mauney was a satisfactory candidate to provide inmate health care services.''

In his application, Mauney informed CMS that he had quit drinking in 1991. But in October 1994 he was admitted to a drug abuse treatment center in Alabama because of an addiction to pain medication, which he said was due to "messed up" knee surgery.

Mauney left the treatment center in February 1995. That same month, he applied to CMS and was hired shortly after.

Dixon, the spokesman for the Alabama board of medical examiners, said that before granting Mauney a license the board carefully considered the many testimonials from doctors, his psychotherapist, a judge and others who gave him strong support.

Mauney left CMS in 1997 and now works at a Birmingham hospital.