09/14/07 — Dr. Owens will be transfered

View Archive

Dr. Owens will be transfered

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 14, 2007 2:13 PM

A Cherry Hospital doctor charged in 1989 with taking indecent liberties with a child will now be assigned a job working primarily with adult males.

Dr. Robert C. Owens, 53, of Hardingwood Drive, had been Cherry's acting medical director until he was placed on investigatory leave with pay July 25 after questions arose about the nearly 20-year-old felony conviction. He was suspended with pay pending an inquiry into the incident, which alleged that he had inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl in Burke County.

Owens was hired by Cherry in 1993, two years before he had a clear medical license.

State officials said Thursday Owens has been transferred to the Department of Corrections in Maury, near Greenville, where his former job title and salary will be reinstated.

As a Physician 3, the position he held previously, he made $164,518 a year, said Debbie Crane, a spokesperson for the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

His new assignment starts Oct. 1, she added.

"He won't be coming back to Cherry," she said. "He will be taking personal leave until the first of October."

Ms. Crane said she was unable to comment further on the particulars since it is a personnel matter, referring questions to Keith Acree, public information officer at Maury Correctional Institute.

Acree confirmed Owens will be a doctor at the facility, responsible for the medical care of inmates. Maury serves adult males and houses between 900 and 1,000 inmates.

The allegations of Owens' prior record surfaced earlier in the summer, when concerns arose about his hiring. His medical license had reportedly been suspended by the North Carolina Medical Board on Jan. 27, 1989, eight days after he was convicted.

At the time, DHHS officials said Owens had maintained a clean record at Cherry.

Owens had been placed under investigatory leave until Aug. 26.