Playing Doctor

Medical professionals try to rescue OCs infamous gang-rape suspect

Photo courtesy pool
photographer Michael Goulding/
The Orange County RegisterThe son of a wealthy Newport Beach businessman who until recently served as an Orange County assistant sheriff, rape suspect Greg Haidl is typically treated generously when he falls--as happens frequently--in the hands of cops. During a 2003 incident, when the 19-year-old was found with a stash of marijuana, officers refused to issue a citation, chauffeured Haidl home and then altered official reports to shield him from media scrutiny. A year later, facing new charges that he raped a second underaged girl while free on bail, Haidl--high on a massive dose of illegal drugs and booze--crashed his car, failed two alcohol tests and nevertheless was allowed to walk away from the scene.

But it's not just cops who've been kind to Haidl, whose father amassed an estimated $90 million fortune selling used government vehicles. It's doctors, too. In a trial that ended in deadlock in June, two physicians helped fight charges that Haidl videotaped himself and two buddies gang raping and molesting an unconscious minor on a pool table during a Newport Beach party. The Haidl-paid doctors were:

* Dr. H. Ronald Fisk, who claimed he had "medical" evidence that Jane Doe, the underaged girl, faked unconsciousness. His proof? 1) During the videotaping of the alleged rape, the drunken defendants barked a few short sentences at her. Although the girl--whom the defendants gave beer, alcohol and marijuana--never responded and later awoke to vomit profusely, Fisk reasoned that nobody would talk to an unconscious person. 2) Fisk also claimed Doe moved during filming, but he downplayed the fact that much of her movement was caused by the defendants, who held her up and entered her doggie-style.

* Dr. Marvin Corman testified it wasn't the intoxicated defendant's repeated use of a juice can, lit cigarette, Snapple bottle or pool cue that caused bruising and tears to Doe's vagina and anus, but rather a Q-tip used by a nurse during a post-rape exam.

Now comes Irwin Ira Rosenfeld, the latest doctor to rescue Haidl from responsibility. After causing the Oct. 30 automobile accident in Santa Ana, facing revocation of his bail, he hired Rosenfeld to vouch for his claim he was too suicidal for jail. In court, the doctor told Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseño it would be "disastrous" to incarcerate the defendant until trial. Although he'd known the defendant for less than 10 hours, Rosenfeld insisted Haidl understands right and wrong behavior, feels guilty for his past behavior involving the videotaped gang bang, and isn't a "sociopath" or--despite all the evidence to the contrary--someone "who tries to manipulate the system."

"Personally, I don't think jail is the proper place for him," said the 53-year-old psychiatrist. "Other inmates don't look kindly on others accused of committing sexual crimes."

Under questioning, Rosenfeld claimed he was certain Greg's suicide threats were real because "[Haidl] said he'd rather kill himself than go to jail" and "he had a sad face."

Briseño, Orange County's senior criminal judge and no fool, ignored Rosenfeld's lobbying. Haidl now awaits trial in a 12-foot-by-six-foot mental-health-ward cell. In the cage next to him sits another defendant accused of sex crimes against a minor: Alejandro Avila. Prosecutors say Avila kidnapped, raped and murdered five-year-old Samantha Runnion before dumping her body near a Riverside County freeway in July 2002. Both trials--Haidl's second, Avila's first--are set to begin in January.

But before Rosenfeld fades back into obscurity, it's fascinating to note similarities between the doctor and Haidl. Authorities have investigated Rosenfeld for alleged incidents involving coerced sex with a suicidal patient, overprescribing narcotics to a patient who was also the doctor's secret business partner, and hiring a hit man. No criminal charges have been filed, but state authorities have suspended Rosenfeld's medical license for unethical conduct. All of the allegations are maintained in files belonging to the Orange County district attorney's office, the California attorney general and the state medical board.

Law-enforcement sources contacted by the Weekly confirmed Rosenfeld was the target of a 2002 sting operation. Earlier that year, Orange County sheriff's detectives investigated the doctor for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill his second wife in Lake Forest and dump her body in Mexico. The investigation was deemed serious enough that deputies "submitted a request for a possible criminal complaint filing" with the DA's office for "two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of dissuading a witness," according to a statement by prosecutors.

The case ended without a murder or an arrest.

"Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong did not file charges on Dr. Rosenfeld due to lack of sufficient evidence," said DA spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder. "Armstrong determined that victim and witness credibility issues made it impossible to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Citing DA policy, Schroeder refused to discuss those credibility issues, but a law-enforcement source familiar with the sheriff's department's investigation said the case collapsed when the cover of the sting operation was prematurely blown.

Rosenfeld--a past president of the Orange County Psychiatric Society and a faculty member at UC Irvine College of Medicine from 1981 to 1985--could not be reached for comment at press time.

The 2002 case was not the doctor's first brush with controversy. In 1999, the Medical Board of California gave Rosenfeld five years' probation after the agency's investigators filed a graphic 30-page complaint. The case involved allegations of gross and repeated negligence, incompetence, dishonesty, corruption, and sexual misconduct from 1992 to 1995.

Among the agency's allegations:

* Rosenfeld overprescribed more than 664 doses of Demerol to a Laguna Beach addict already addicted to the powerful narcotic and entered into multiple, secret business relationships with the man.

* In part by using hypnosis, Rosenfeld coerced a suicidal 28-year-old female patient to perform oral sex on him and "used a foreign object (penis-shaped vibrator) to penetrate the vagina" of the patient. On another occasion, he fondled her "entire body, kissed her genitals, manipulated her genitals" and penetrated her again with a foreign object. Later, he directed the patient to shave off her pubic hair, engaged in intercourse with her and then paid $1,800 for her to undergo breast-enlargement surgery.

At the time of the investigation, Rosenfeld called the allegations false. In exchange for the dismissal of all other charges in 1999, the doctor admitted to the California attorney general's office he'd been "grossly negligent" only in connection with the drug-addicted patient. The doctor told The Orange County Registerlate last month the Demerol addict had threatened his family so he'd overprescribed the narcotic while "under duress" for several years. Despite the explanation, state authorities suspended the doctor's license for 30 days and placed him on five years' probation. Rosenfeld was also forced to attend classes on the "maintenance of patient boundaries" as well as medical ethics, pay $7,500 for the agency's investigative costs, and agree to "surveillance" of his practice. On Nov. 5, the medical board ended probation and cleared Rosenfeld's record. Two weeks later, the doctor testified for Haidl at his bail-revocation hearing.

rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com

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