Former ER doctor gets 179 days in jail

Hill pleads guilty to gross misdemeanors

Former Olympic Medical Center emergency department physician Josiah Hill, left, was sentenced on Monday to 179 days in jail during a hearing in Clallam County Superior Court. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)

Former Olympic Medical Center emergency department physician Josiah Hill, left, was sentenced on Monday to 179 days in jail during a hearing in Clallam County Superior Court. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — A former emergency department physician was sentenced to 179 days in jail for assaulting six women while they were in his care at Olympic Medical Center in 2021 and 2022.

Judge Simon Barnhart on Monday followed the recommendations of Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, and ordered Josiah Hill to serve six concurrent sentences of 180 days in jail with credit for one day served. Hill also will pay $500 to the state’s Victim Penalty Assessment program and $200 in court costs.

Barnhart also prepared no-contact orders for each of the six women.

Hill pleaded guilty to six counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation. The charge was a significant reduction from those he originally faced: six counts of indecent liberties as a health care provider with one count containing a special allegation of a vulnerable victim and one count of second-degree rape with special allegations of a vulnerable victim.

Devlin and Jared Ausserer, Hill’s attorney, reached a plea agreement in May that dropped the felony charges against Hill to gross misdemeanors. The agreement eliminated the need for a jury trial, which had been slated to start Monday and was estimated to last between four and five weeks.

Devlin said her office sought a plea deal that was appropriate, fair and informed by trauma-informed prosecution practices that considered the impact that a jury trial, public scrutiny and the possibility of opening up old wounds would have on the six women.

“They disagreed among themselves about the deal,” Devlin said. “Some agreed, some were very unhappy and some were relieved.”

Devlin said the case came to light thanks to “six strong women” who reported similar experiences of victimization when seeking help in OMC’s emergency department.

Hill pleaded not guilty to the original charges and was adamant about not wanting to plead guilty to lesser charges for something he said he did not do, Ausserer said. It took three or four weeks to convince Hill the plea deal was his best option, Ausserer said, especially after the court denied a motion to hold a separate trial for each woman.

In his statement to the court, Hill refuted one-by-one and in detail the claims of the six women using diagrams, explanations of prescription dosages and a narrative of each of his interactions with the women when they visited the emergency department. All of the care he delivered and all that he did, Hill said, was in the best interest of patients.

He accepted the deal, he said, because the risk was too great that he could spend the rest of his life in prison and unable to see his two young children had he been convicted on the felony accounts.

Agreeing to the gross misdemeanors also meant he would not have to register as a sex offender.

“This has been the most difficult thing I have ever gone through in my life, to have people believe that I did something so heinous,” Hill said.

Three of the women who accused Hill of taking assaulting them gave emotional victim impacts statements to the court in which they described what they said occurred when they received treatment from Hill. One victim died around the time Hill was first charged in 2022.

A woman called E.B. in court documents said she arrived in the emergency department on April 23, 2022, after she was injured in an automobile accident with broken ribs and a collapsed lung. She said she struggled to stay awake when the assault occurred.

“I had been taught to trust doctors, police and teachers,” Burke said. “You took that trust away.”

A second woman, M.S., said her experience was “the kind of thing that changed my life forever.” She arrived in the emergency department after she suffered a drug overdose, and she said Hill assaulted her by grabbing her breasts.

B.W. didn’t remember being assaulted. In her statement read to the court, B.W. said she only learned of it a year and a half after it occurred when someone reviewing the OMC videotape for evidence saw it and reported it to law enforcement.

Hill had been working in OMC’s emergency department since July 2020.

Hill was arrested in July 2022 on three warrants — one count of second-degree rape and three counts of indecent liberties as a healthcare provider with a special allegation for a vulnerable victim. The state Department of Health suspended Hill’s medical license the same month.

Hill’s next court date is a review hearing at 9 a.m. Dec. 17.

________

Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached by email at paula.hunt@peninsuladailynews.com.