Less than 24 hours before a scheduled motion in court, the State Attorney’s Office dropped a misdemeanor battery charge against former Palm Coast physician Florence Fruehan, seemingly ending the criminal case against him.
A woman had charged that Fruehan inappropriately groping her breasts during a medical exam at his office on Pine Code Drive two years ago.
The State Attorney’s Jason Lewis said the charge was dropped because even though his office filed the charge a day before the two-year statute of limitation expired, Fruehan was not served until after the date passed. The law is explicit about when the charge must be filed in order to be within the statute of limitations. It is not explicit about when the summons must be issued, other than to state that the summons must be delivered within a “reasonable” time after the file is charged. It appears the State Attorney’s Office did not want to risk wading into that gray area.
Fruehan was scheduled to argue a motion to dismiss the case against him this afternoon before County Court Judge Melissa Moore-Stens. At 2:29 p.m. Thursday, Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark filed a notice that her office would not be prosecuting that particular charge. Fruehan did not respond to an email this afternoon.
It is the fourth time since 1995 that Fruehan has faced a criminal charge, and the fourth time that it’s been dropped. He faced battery charges in 1995 and 1996 and a second-degree felony sexual battery charge in 2006. Each time the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office filed the charge against Fruehan, and each time the State Attorney’s Office, which decides whether to prosecute the case, opted against it.
But Clark this time dropped the charge by also filing a rarely seen notice on such dismissals: referring to physical evidence in the case, Clark directed the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to “hold for further court proceedings and/or instructions.” Lewis would not say one way or another whether additional cases are in the works: his office does not reveal any internal workings before they are publicized on the court docket. But Clark’s instructions suggest that further proceedings are possible.
The sheriff’s office in fact had filed two battery charges against Fruehan in late September. One of the charges was signed by a woman, 39 years old at the time, who says that in 2016 she was subjected to inappropriate groping by Fruehan, with her child in the room, when she’d gone to his office for a physical. That’s the charge that was dropped Wednesday. The second charge was signed by a 54-year-old woman who described a similar incident, but that one took place earlier this year. The State Attorney’s Office could still file an information, or an intent to prosecute, on that charge. And nothing stops the State Attorney’s Office from filing other charges on its own, without an affidavit from the sheriff’s office.
The alleged incident involving the 54-year-old woman took place on May 24. The same woman filed a complaint about that exam at Fruehan’s office to the state Department of Health, which started an investigation and soon ordered Fruehan to stop seeing patients outside the presence of another licensed health care practitioner. Weeks after that order, as the investigation continued, Fruehan agreed to voluntarily surrender his physician’s license, and stopped practicing medicine altogether. Fruehan goes before the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine on Nov. 16, when the board will formally hear the case and rule on the surrender of the license.
Wow !! I can’t believe it another charge dropped against him . Who is he paying off ?? This is one of the reasons people who are sexually assaulted don’t come forward .. He must be laughing once again !!! What hold does he have over these people ???
Speak the truth says
What is wrong with the system 2 sexual battery cases and they were dropped and you let this man continue to practice medicine? What the hell are you thinking? I think the state attorney’s office should be held responsible as well as this piece of crap. Karma is a b**** and is going to bite him in the ass he gets everything that’s coming his f****** way
Speak the truth says
If he’s not afraid to continue to so-called practice medicine why did he quickly surrender his license because I’m going to tell you why he is guilty. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a duck. This man is so disgusting and the sexual remarks that were made to my sister by my father’s bedside as he was dying we’re very inappropriate. he thinks because he’s a member at the Hammock Beach Resort that he’s a big s*** he’s not he’s a piece of s***
And the woman kept going back to him?????????????????????
Steve Ward says
Move on Dr. Enjoy the rest of your life with the Family.
It’s too bad that a group of the other women who told their stories here didn’t hire an attorney for them all and split the cost amongst them. It would’ve given more clout to the case and the outcome might have been different.
We have a state attorney who obviously did not want to take the time to pursue the rule about the time a person was reported and filed a claim, and the time that it took to issue Fruehan a summons, Thumbs down to the state attorney. It’s Just another example that slants the law against women and makes them skittish about reporting an assault. It wouldn’t surprise me if Fruehan gets his license back and continues doing his bad deeds and continuing his practice with his arrogant, and insulting attitude. I wonder how Fruehan would feel if his wife or daughters went to a doctor who treated them the same way as Fruehan treats a lot of his patients.
Well, at least his reputation is really out in the open now and, if he gets his license back to practice again, women will stay far far away from him. His long standing patients who like him and don’t believe the stories will be able to return to someone they’re comfortable with. Of course, there is always the hope that he won’t get his license to practice back.
Sick of this says
Is he paying someone off? Four times, really? What’s it going to take to charge this guy? This is ridiculous. Everyone on town knows what a dirt bag he is. I know there has to be more women out there. Please step forward and put this guy behind bars where he belongs. Don’t let him walk away.
Percy's mother says
To all you miserable people having convicted the man based on allegations, I’ll tell you something . . .
The doctor most likely relinquished his license because he’s getting old, and at his age doesn’t want to deal with the stress of EMRs, mega government rules and regulations as well as patients who perceive his care as assault and the ensuing legal battles that go with that. It becomes all too much of a big hassle when one gets to be a certain age. So maybe the man didn’t have the best personality or bedside manner, that doesn’t mean he’s a perpetrator.
It may be surprising for all you people to know but there are a lot of mentally and emotionally unstable people who walk into doctor’s offices every day. In the current litigious climate, all any mentally and/or emotionally unstable person has to do is make an ALLEGATION about perceived unprofessional behavior, and someone’s professional and personal life is ruined. That combined with mass hysteria (I read it every day on this website), then more and more “victims” step forward because they start to think that they too have been assaulted (due to some emotional/mental instability on their parts).
And please, don’t bother with any negative or miserable/nasty comments in reference to this post. I’m glad I don’t live in your worlds.
Johnny from golden corral says
He is what you call “Untouchable”.
sexual abuse victim says says
State Attorney’s office is weak for not letting Court decide this issue. I feel terrible for crime victims being let down by the cowardly State Attorney. Every time the State Attorney office drops a criminal charge, it enables and emboldens people to commit crimes and re-victimizes the crime victims. Sad.
Jolene R Dehart says
4 times?? That’s ridiculous. Shameful.
Jolene R Dehart says
Mr. Ward, obviously the “family” isn’t enough.
For all you Fruehan lovers out there this guy is guilty as sin every one knows it I no first hand, you all have no idea what he has done and is capable of doing. I wish the people who he assaulted and got addicted etc. would all come forward hire a lawyer and put him were he belongs JAIL
That goes to show you how prejudiced the court system really is if that was a man of color it would not have taken for chances that they gave me life after the first assault
Sexual assualt isnt always illegal if you are in a position of power. If your popular enough, the victims will be embarrassed to come foward basicly giving a green light to assualter. It is our duty as a society to make sure sexual predators like Fruhan are never comfortable living in our county.
Grossed out former patient says
To those of you supporting Dr “Grabby hands” you have obviously never encountered an inappropriate appointment with him. When I was 15 my mother took me to see him because she thought I had bronchitis. This disgusting pervert asked me to remove my shirt, stared at my breasts and proceeded to grope them to see if I was sick. He didn’t place his stethoscope on my chest to listen to my breath sounds, he abused his position of power and my vulnerability to feel up a 15 year young girl. I hope he at least can never practice medicine again. And don’t even think of writing me back to say I should have reported it. I was a young girl that was humiliated and unsure of what to do and afraid to say anything. Which is what the majority of what young women feel. Surrendering his medical license is a slap in the face to all of his victims. He should have his hands chopped off because it’s obvious he can’t keep them to himself.
Wrong been thru it myself got the help I needed to move on you should do the same imo
Make it count says
To all his victims out there:. You need to step forward and make it count. I know there are more out there. We already heard of one right here in the comments. I find it hard to believe that there are no more current incidents.
The good old boys are 2 for 2!
It is a true shame that some doctors get away with so much.
However, one thing that doesn’t go away even though his case was dropped. The charges will still hold show up on a criminal check.. So for those who were sexually assulted by him that should be some satisfaction.
He surrender his license , so now he won’t be touching patients inappropriately. However watch out ladies , he still has all his freedom and two free hands with more time to reach out and touch someone
Autumn Joy says
I have been a patient (50 yr. old female) of the Dr., since the early 90’s, and can tell you that he has ALWAYS taken care of me and NEVER been inappropriate during it all, and he has even gave me several pap smears and was always professional about it. Not only has he been my trusted Dr.,,I consider this man a friend of mine and willy happily go to court to testify on his behalf! Dr. Fruehan also saved my friends life! She went to several Dr., to find out what was wrong, and they all sent her home saying she had arthritis, so I took her to Dr.Fruehan and he immediately found that she had Stage 4 Lung Cancer! If he did not find it when he did, my friend would not be here today! He is a Genius when it comes to Medicine. Like it or not, that is the facts! Stand tall Dr.Fruehan as your loyal patient’s, we will stand behind you and all these LIES people are saying!