A Roanoke County doctor was sentenced to 30 days in jail Monday for kissing a patient without her consent.
Dr. Peter Floyd Kelly, who’s licensed in podiatry, was found guilty of misdemeanor assault at the conclusion of a bench trial in Roanoke County General District Court.
An appeal will be filed and the case will be heard again in Circuit Court, said defense attorney Seth Weston.
Judge Jacqueline Talevi said Kelly could remain free on bond while those proceedings are pending.
Kelly, who records indicate has been licensed as a podiatrist in Virginia since 1987, was charged this summer after a patient reported that he leaned in, grabbed her face and kissed her during an appointment in June.
The victim, crying at times on the stand, said she was stunned and rinsed her mouth out with soap in the restroom when Kelly stepped out to attend to another patient.
“I couldn’t believe he would do something like that,” she said.
Kelly, who also testified, said he thought at the time the patient was interested in him. He conceded his behavior was inappropriate but his attorney argued it didn’t rise to the level of criminal conduct.
“It’s a bad, ham-handed attempt to start a relationship with somebody,” Weston said. “Certainly, it’s not expected for that to happen in a doctor’s office. But it’s not illegal.”
The judge disagreed and described the circumstances as egregious at one point. She found Kelly guilty of assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and handed down a 12-month sentence with all but 30 days suspended.
That sentence won’t take effect while the case is awaiting appeal.
On the stand Monday, the victim said she tried to pull away from Kelly but didn’t voice her distress afterward because she was shaken up and wanted to get away from the office quickly.
She said she agonized for two weeks over what to do before resolving to report it after talking it over with a therapist.
Kelly tried to kiss her a second time as she was leaving the exam room, she testified, but she said no. The doctor testified that there was no second attempt.
Kelly said his behavior that day was out of character and he’d never before acted that way toward a patient.
The two offered differing accounts of what led up to the kiss. Kelly said he thought she was expressing interest in him. She said she never signaled an attraction.
Monday’s trial included a viewing of a phone recording that the patient was able to make of the conversation she had with Kelly in the office shortly after he kissed her.
He acknowledged the kiss and whispered that he would like to meet up with her sometime. He looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was nearby to overhear, said assistant prosecutor Nate Griffith.
It wasn’t immediately clear Monday if any other inquiries were pending over this case. A representative for the Virginia Board of Medicine said confidentiality laws prevent the board from either confirming or denying whether an investigation might be underway into a licensee.