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Doctor loses license in bagged-fetus case

By Carol Gentry
2/6/2009 © Florida Health News

The Florida Board of Medicine revoked the license of an abortion-clinic doctor on Friday, finding him guilty of medical malpractice in a 2006 case involving a fetus allegedly born alive and stuffed in a biohazard bag.

Gynecologist Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique ducked into the men's room to avoid reporters after the board's unanimous vote. Records indicate he now lives in New York state.

The Florida Department of Health, which prosecuted the case, had sought a less-severe penalty. Renelique himself did not take part in the disposal of the fetus, records show, but was late in arriving at the clinic. He was charged with delegating care of the patient, Sycloria Williams, to unqualified and unlicensed personnel and then falsifying records. A civil suit has been filed.

The case had originally been scheduled for December but was postponed in part because some members of the board said they couldn't understand Renelique's English and needed a translator. He was accompanied by a translator on Friday.

Records from DOH show the 18-year-old patient went to a women’s center in Miramar on July 17, 2006, to set up an elective abortion and gave the staff an $800 down payment. Records say sonograms pegged the pregnancy at 23 weeks.

On July 19, according to the complaint, the doctor inserted cervical dilators and gave the woman drugs to cause uterine contractions. The next day, the woman reported to the clinic about 9:30 a.m.; no treatment staff were present, so she waited in her car. She began to feel ill about 11:45 a.m., and went into a patient room to lie down. The doctor was called repeatedly, according to the complaint.

The patient told investigators she was still waiting for him at 2 when she felt a pain and saw a “live baby” on the floor, moving and breathing, according to the state’s complaint. It says one of the owners of the clinic, a “Ms. Gonzalez,” came in and cut the umbilical cord. Then the clinic worker placed the cord and the baby in a plastic bag, which she put in a trashcan, the complaint says.

Renelique arrived at the clinic around 3 p.m. to perform the abortion, only to learn that the fetus had already been delivered and been disposed of.

Police received a call on July 21 alleging the baby had been killed at the clinic; they obtained a search warrant for the clinic for July 22, taking the records of the patient but not finding the fetus.

On July 28, following an anonymous tip that the fetus was on the roof of the clinic, police returned but didn’t find it. Later that day, following another tip, they found the decomposing remains of the fetus inside the clinic. An autopsy found that the fetus had died after taking a breath, but the cause of death was listed as “extreme prematurity.”

The board meets today and Saturday at the Tampa Airport Marriott.

--Contact Carol Gentry by e-mail or at 727-410-3266.