Former ER physician still faces civil trial

Hill pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday

PORT ANGELES — Although a plea agreement on Friday reduced charges against a former Olympic Medical Center emergency room physician from felonies to gross misdemeanors, Josiah Hill still faces a civil lawsuit filed by one of the seven women with whom he is accused of making unwanted sexual contact.

At a motion hearing in Clallam County Superior Court on Friday, deputy prosecuting attorney Matthew Roberson and Hill’s attorney, Jared Ausserer, told Judge Simon Barnhart the two sides had agreed to change the charges against Hill from Class B felony counts of indecent liberties with a healthcare provider to Class B gross misdemeanors. The agreement eliminated the need for a trial, which had been anticipated to last about five weeks.

Ausserer on Friday said substantive discussions about a plea agreement arose about a month ago, while chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney Michelle Devlin said negotiations with the defense had been continuing throughout the pre-trial period.

“When in a case of this magnitude they are ongoing — it’s the complexity and the fact there are six victims,” Devlin said.

Hill, who has appeared at his hearings by Zoom, will be in court June 24.

“That is when his change of plea will be held, that’s when his sentencing will be, and the sentencing will be up to the judge,” Devlin said.

At his arraignment on July 29, 2022, Hill was charged with three counts of indecent liberties by a healthcare provider, a Class B felony, and one case of second degree rape with a vulnerable victim, a Class A felony. Three more alleged victims eventually came forward and accused Hill of sexually abusing them by performing unwanted and unnecessary examinations.

Hill pleaded not guilty to all charges.

A jury trial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 10, 2022, but it was delayed several times. Most recently, it was moved from Jan. 22, 2024, to June 24, which is now Hill’s sentencing date.

But Hill could be in the courtroom to face a jury in January 2025 when he defends himself against civil charges by one of his alleged victims for medical malpractice and assault.

Emma Jo Burke arrived at OMC’s emergency department on Feb. 23, 2022, following a motor vehicle accident.

In her complaint, Burke accuses Hill of misdiagnosing her injuries, administering fentanyl and inserting a tube into her chest. It was while she was incapacitated that Hill raped and sexually molested her, the complaint states.

Burke also accused OMC and PESI of negligence and failing to protect her from Hill, according to the complaint. Both should have known about sexual crime allegations made against Hill when he worked at Tampa General Hospital, the complaint states.

However, Judge Brent Basden in January dismissed the charges against OMC and PESI with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again.

In June 2022, OMC canceled its contract with PESI and hired Sound Physicians as its emergency room service provider.

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

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