Chiropractor still can practice after pleading guilty to rape charges

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ADAMSVILLE, Tenn. — New details are available on why Adamsville chiropractor Matthew Barnes still can see patients even after pleading guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl. The Tennessee Department of Health, which oversees licenses for chiropractors, says it is up to Barnes to report his own conviction. For some, just as shocking as a probation-only sentence handed down for the Adamsville chiropractor is the fact he can still see patients. “It’s not over for him as far as his professional license. That could still be pulled away,” attorney Frederick Agee said. The West Tennessee attorney said he was shocked by Barnes receiving no jail time after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated statutory rape. He reached out to WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News via FaceTime while working in Asia. “I know of cases where people have done jail time for driving on suspended driver’s license,” Agee said over the phone. According to the plea agreement, Barnes must register as a sex offender during his four years of probation, but he’ll be taken off that list and have the charges erased from his record if he stays out of trouble. Agee said the lack of consistency is troubling. “Is the poor person or the minority being treated the same way as the white doctor, the 44-year-old white doctor in rural West Tennessee?” According to the state department of health, Barnes must self report his conviction. “There is no state law or rule that prompts automatic action against a health professional’s license if he or she is convicted of a crime,” said Health Department Spokesperson Shelley Walker. Agee said Barnes’ license is considered a property right, meaning he is entitled to a hearing, and does not see it being suspended or revoked any time soon. The health department said if Barnes fails to report his conviction, the board could discipline him simply for violating rules. Barnes is subject to the Tennessee HealthCare Consumer Right-To-know Act, which requires designated health care professionals to report any adverse action within 30 days of occurrence of such action, according to Walker. For now, the state says his license remains active.

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