Prosecutors have charged Dr. Patrick McGree, a longtime family physician in Butte, with multiple counts of alleged sexual assaults of female patients and using pain medication prescriptions to coerce them.
They say he felt and groped the private parts of three adult women and penetrated two with his hands during exams that had nothing to do with those body parts. They also allege he rubbed them with his privates and exposed himself to one's face.
The allegations were made by three women, ages 37, 47, and 52, and all had received prescriptions from McGree for pain medication.
John E. Smith, an attorney for McGree, said he was barred by professional rules from talking about facts in the case and he had not seen or reviewed evidence from prosecutors.
"I can tell you we will appear for arraignment when scheduled and he will plead not guilty," Smith said by telephone from his office in Missoula.
McGree is charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent, three counts of sexual servitude for allegedly using drugs for coercion, and two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault.
The intercourse charges, which allege penetration by hand, carry possible life terms. The sexual servitude counts carry maximum terms of 15 years each, and the misdemeanor counts are punishable by up to five years and fines of $10,000.
The charges in Butte District Court are dated Dec. 28, and although a summons was issued to McGree that day ordering him to appear in court this week, he was not arrested.
A deputy with the Montana Attorney General is prosecuting the case, and that office often issues summons instead of having people arrested first.
McGree was to have been arraigned Friday, but that has been delayed. District Court Judges Kurt Krueger and Brad Newman in Butte have recused themselves from the case, and McGree requested that someone besides Third District Judge Ray Dayton oversee it. A new arraignment date has not been set.
First District Judge Kathy Seeley in Helena has accepted the case and will set the new arraignment date.
McGree has been a physician in Butte for 31 years, working from an office on South Clark Street in recent years and also practicing at the North American Indian Alliance clinic in Butte.
According to the charging documents, McGree told investigators that he had become attracted to his patients and had felt breasts on six to eight occasions.
"The defendant said he did not know how it happened, it just happened," the document states.
He also admitted to brushing against them while aroused, saying that first occurred five or six years ago and last happened about six months ago. He said it wasn't the first time such allegations had come up during his practice and they usually involved drug addicts.
"The defendant denied any other sexual activity with his patients," the charging document says. "The defendant said he wanted the agents to just pull his license and make it easier."
According to investigators, an office receptionist said McGree called all office staff the day after he was interviewed and said he was being investigated.
"The defendant said it was 'breasts and (oral sex), no intercourse' and he had in fact done it and had confessed to the agents," the document states.
Investigators interviewed the three women on separate occasions over the past 13 months, one interview taking place this past November.
The 47-year-old woman said she had been seeing McGree as her doctor for years, with one of the sexual incidents dating back to April 2013. She said she had been on pain pills the past seven years for back pain and got Hydrocodone and Percocet from McGree every month.
She said she still went to him because "who else am I going to go to?" and could get any drugs she wanted "pretty much anytime she wanted," the document says.
During one incident, she said, McGree groped her and was saying things like "Oh, so you need your prescription, so you need your other refill," the charging document says.
The 37-year-old said she had fallen and hurt herself and went to McGree, admitting she was a meth addict and requesting "Oxys." After sexual misconduct occurred, she said, McGree gave her a prescription for pain medication.
The other woman said she felt if she did not let McGree do what he did, she would not get her prescription.