Whidbey skin doctor now wanted for assault
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
September 6, 2011 · Updated 5:38 PM
Investigators with the Island County Sheriff’s Office are asking the public for help locating a dermatologist who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and may be suicidal.
Detective Ed Wallace said deputies have probable cause to arrest Dr. Donald “Russell” Johnson, 51, on suspicion of second-degree assault, a felony domestic violence charge. The alleged incident occurred at the couple’s Cornet Bay home Tuesday morning.
Wallace said the 44-year-old woman called 911 after being assaulted. Johnson fled in his white 2003 Lexus LS40 SUV, Washington license number 973-TRI. The woman indicated that Johnson may be suicidal.
Anyone with information about Johnson’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Island County Sheriff’s Office via the ICOM dispatch center at 360-679-9567 or by calling 911.
Trouble has been piling on Dr. Johnson lately. He abruptly closed his dermatology clinics and medical spas in Coupeville and Anacortes this summer, leaving his patients without a doctor or access to their medical records. He is under investigation by the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission for patient abandonment, is being sued by his former landlord and owes large amounts of back taxes, according to court documents.
In addition, Johnson is going through a messy divorce complicated by allegations that he was married to two different women at the same time. Court documents filed in Skagit County Superior Court indicate that he never divorced his first wife when he obtained a marriage license with another woman in July of 2008.
Detective Wallace declined to identify the woman Johnson allegedly assaulted.
“She is in a safe place,” he said.
Larry Berg, staff attorney for Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission, confirmed Tuesday that the commission received eight complaints against Johnson. He said all but one of the complaints revolve around allegations that Johnson abandoned his patients or didn’t allow them access to their medical records. One complaint has to do with management of an infection.
Berg said the commission members have been concerned about Johnson’s well-being because of the amount of stress he is under.
“The commission has referred Dr. Johnson a number of times to the Washington Physicians Health Program, which assists doctors who are having difficulty coping for whatever reason,” Berg said. “But to our knowledge, he has not consulted them. We hope that he will do so soon.”
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.