Tanana Valley doctor found guilty in drugs-for-sex case

Physican charged with addicting patients to prescription drugs

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2001

FAIRBANKS - After deliberating for almost a week, a jury on Tuesday found a former Tanana Valley Clinic doctor guilty of 73 of 105 felony counts alleging drug or sex crimes.

Dr. Stephen Grandstaff was charged with addicting four vulnerable Medicaid patients to prescription drugs and then trading the drugs for sexual favors.

Testimony by chemical dependency expert Ted Parran suggested many of the prescriptions made out by Grandstaff had no medical purpose and were extremely ill-advised given the four victims' documented history of addiction. All Grandstaff was doing, he contended, was channeling their addictions into new drugs.

Three women who testified told similar tales of their encounters with Grandstaff. They claimed he made inappropriate sexual comments during office visits, which would lead to sexual acts. In one case this included two encounters with a victim outside the clinic, according to trial testimony.

Meanwhile, the women said, Grandstaff gave them frequent refills of narcotic prescription drugs, resulting in addiction and, in some cases, overdoses and trips to the hospital.

"I've lost years of my life" to Grandstaff, said one victim.

Defense lawyer Bill Murphree spent much of the trial building an argument that Grandstaff's prescribing habits, though foolhardy, were not criminal since they arose out of some modicum of medical necessity. He noted all four alleged victims suffered from very real medical problems.

Murphree called his own expert witness, Anchorage Dr. Robert Hanek, who offered his opinion that almost all of the prescriptions Grandstaff gave out were on the excessive side but were still needed by the patients.

Two of the victims and their families, as well several of Grandstaff's supporters, were in the courtroom as the verdict was read. While Grandstaff remained composed, several of those in the courtroom broke down in tears.

Grandstaff was found guilty of 68 counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance, three counts of second-degree theft and two counts of sexual assault. Jurors declined to comment on their verdicts.

Grandstaff's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 29. Murphree said he plans to appeal the verdict.

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