It might sound like something out of a Lifetime movie, but the horrifying story of a famous New Jersey doctor is anything but fictitious.
Dr. Jonathan Fellus allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 33-year-old brain-injured female patient he was treating for recurring seizures. On June 13, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners revoked his license, according to the Office of the Attorney General. The investigation began in 2011 when he was placed on administrative leave. Fellus, a neurologist at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation at the time, specialized in awakening brain-dead patients from their coma.
“The facts clearly show that Dr. Fellus engaged in a relationship with this patient, even though he knew or should have known she was suffering a diagnosed cognitive disorder and was physically debilitated by injuries she suffered in a car accident,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman wrote in a statement. “This relationship violated long-standing ethical standards and a specific Board of Medical Examiners rule prohibiting sexual contact between physicians and their patients.”
Fellus now has to pay a $10,000 penalty and $34,450 in court costs. He must also transfer all of his patients within the next 30 days, and he is prohibited from treating new patients. Fellus also has to wait three years before he can even apply for his license again.
“The Board of Medical Examiners’ prohibition of sexual contact with patients is intended to protect those who are vulnerable and who are attempting to heal,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “The Board of Medical Examiners took the right action by revoking the license of this physician for violating this essential requirement.”
The board found out that Fellus had been treating the woman in August 2008 after she was injured in a traffic accident in 1998. She stated in a complaint that Fellus started to massage and kiss her neck on her second visit in September 2008, according to NJ.com. They began to have an affair after that, at times in his home in his wife's absence and also at the Kessler facility. The patient continued to have episodes of seizures and told Fellus about it. In March 2009, the patient came in for treatment for seizures and collapse. “But instead … he requested she perform a sex act with him and she did so.” The patient filed a law suit against Fellus, and he resigned from his position in February 2011.
Fellus started gaining popularity after his non-conventional methods of treatment proved to be useful. Out of 41 of patients that received his treatment, 28 regained brain function.
Below is an interview he did with CBS in late October 2013 regarding an Alzheimer's drug used to treat compulsive shopping.