Former Rockford-area doctor sentenced to nine years in state prison for fondling patients
By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Charles S. DeHeaan, the former Rockford-area doctor already serving time in federal prison for Medicare fraud, was sentenced Friday to nine years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for aggravated battery.
DeHaan, 64, addressed Judge John Lowry before sentencing and apologized for inappropriately touching three women while he was supposed to be treating medically. He appeared thin, pale and spoke softly, indicative of heart and brain issues that caused him to suffer a stroke last fall.
“I take responsibility for this,” DeHaan said. “I am sorry for the harm that I have caused my patients–the ones I have pled to. I am sorry for my family, who is suffering greatly through this. It breaks my heart, so I take responsibility for what they are going trough as well.”
DeHaan was initially charged with more than a dozen counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. Those charges were later reduced to three counts of aggravated battery to victims older than 60 as part of a plea agreement last August.
Deputy State’s Attorney Pamela Wells did not recommend a specific sentence but told the court he deserved a “significant” term behind bars, noting that a total of 15 women, some now deceased, reported that the doctor who specialized in house calls fondled their breasts, exposed himself, masturbated and performed sex acts on them during those visits. On one occasion, Wells said, DeHaan ignored a lump on a victim’s breast which later resulted in a cancer diagnosis and mastectomy.
“These were not medical examinations,” Wells said.
DeHaan’s wife and daughter asked Lowry for leniency, saying that while he will never practice medicine again and has “lost everything,” he’s a changed man. He remains a source of support for his children, grandchildren and other inmates at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he’s serving nine years in the Medicare case. DeHaan also has a large support network at his local church.
Although Wells acknowledged that many people support DeHaan, they haven’t been exposed to the side of him his victims knew. His shows one side to his family and friends, she said, but is another person behind closed doors.
“This is a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Wells said, adding that the community must be protected from DeHaan after he’s released from federal custody. “Given the opportunity to have a vulnerable victim in his clenches again, he would reoffend.”
Defense attorneys, Melinda Jacobson and Aaron Buscemi, said given his age and the progress he’s making in federal custody, DeHaan deserves probation. He’s different than he was six years ago, Jacobson said. He’s a humble man with a renewed purpose.
“Dr. Charles DeHaan lost everything,” Jacobson said. “What he has not lost is his faith and his passion to help others.”
The judge, however, agreed with the state, calling the ex-doctor a manipulative criminal and predator.
“Your supporters simply did not see that side of you,” Lowry said. “Your ability to set aside your honorable character and engage in these types of criminal activities makes you a danger to the community. “…Our community needs to be protected from you.”
The state sentence will be served consecutively, meaning it will begin after DeHaan is released from federal prison in 2025, when he’s 70.
DeHaan’s lawyers, who are expected to file a motion for reconsideration, said a prison stay beyond what he’s already serving would deprive him of proper medical treatment, something he said he did not receive when he suffered a stroke in November 2018. DeHaan said while he was having the brain attack, he was brought back to his bunk and left unattended for 15 hours before being admitted to a hospital.
Lowry said more time in prison would not negatively affect DeHaan’s health.
“The defendant’s ongoing medical concerns have been managed while incarcerated and can be managed while incarcerated,” the judge said. “The court finds that imprisonment would not endanger his physical medical condition.”
Lowry said DeHaan’s potential for rehabilitation and declining health do not outweigh the gravity of his conduct and that a sentence of probation would deprecate the seriousness of the offenses.
“The defendant preyed on highly vulnerable victims,” he said. “He touched, fondled and groped them to satisfy his own personal perverted desires.”
DeHaan was an owner of Housecall Physicians Group of Rockford, formerly known as House Calls of Greater Chicago. Because his Winnebago County charges were reduced to aggravated battery, he will not have to register as a sex offender. He was also charged in Cook County for allegedly assaulting a 61-year-old Des Plaines woman he treated between 2009 and 2012 and faces several civil lawsuits.
This story has been updated.