God bless Judge Carlisle Overstreet.
The chief judge of Augusta's judicial circuit smacked down "The Teflon Doc" last Tuesday, sentencing ex-gynecologist Jerry Jackson Lee II to 20 years in prison for aggravated sexual battery on a 9-year-old girl.
That's a tough sentence from a judge not known for them. You have to wonder if Overstreet hasn't tossed and turned a few nights speculating if, six years ago, all this started because he was too easy on Lee.
If you recall, Overstreet's conviction of Lee on greatly reduced charges was the first of many times Lee was able to keep tougher punishment from sticking to him.
Giving Overstreet the benefit of the doubt, of which there is a considerable amount, the outcome of that 2001 case probably wasn't his fault - at least not entirely.
The judge had the task of presiding over a bench trial in which Lee was accused of beating the daylights out of his wife. The prosecution's case disintegrated, however, when the victim recanted during the trial and claimed her roadmap of bruises was self-inflicted. Overstreet then found Lee guilty of only a misdemeanor battery charge.
Since then, Lee managed to convince a judge to turn him loose on a charge of possessing an illegal automatic weapon, and moved from here, to Mississippi, to south Georgia, and back - always just a step or two ahead of malpractice suits, bizarre allegations and legal disputes with colleagues.
The non-stick coating started to corrode in Hazelhurst, Ga., about four years ago, when, among other medical misadventures, Lee helped himself to an injection of a cancer-patient's Demerol while she was sitting in the room. That stunt, and a long list of complaints, led Lee to surrender his medical license in 2003 before the State Board of Medical Examiners had a chance to yank it from him. (Voluntarily surrendering a license makes it easier to get it back later. Fat chance of that happening now, thankfully.)
A felony fraud conviction finally stuck to Lee in 2004 when he pretended to still be a doctor in order to score his pain-killer drugs of choice. Then, back in Columbia County, he was stuck in jail until his trial on child molestation charges because the arrest violated his probation.
This time around Lee faced a jury. On June 13 they acquitted him on three counts of child molestation - but found him guilty of aggravated sexual battery.
That was when Lee grinned at his attorney. Perhaps the Teflon Doc thought he'd slipped through another one, not realizing that even though his conviction doesn't have the loaded name "child molestation," the battery charge still carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
But Overstreet gave Lee the max. Minus time already served in the Columbia County Detention Center, Lee could be a taxpayer-funded guest of the Georgia Department of Corrections until 2025.
With at least two felonies on his record Lee won't get his medical license back, but he won't have to starve when he's released, either; at age 65, he'll be eligible for Social Security.
Meanwhile, suspected of hiding his money with other family members, now-divorced Lee has skipped paying child support. On Friday the 13th - certainly not his lucky day - Lee got 240 days tacked on to his jail time by Judge Mike Annis. And Annis promises to continue piling on the days as long as Lee keeps avoiding his obligations.
You know, Teflon is good stuff. But anything left on the fire long enough will eventually get burned.
Here's hoping Lee's new roommates in the state prison system give him a warm reception.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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