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Keith Hovan removed as Southcoast CEO after domestic violence charge dismissed

Keith Hovan, former chief executive of Southcoast Health, has been removed from the CEO position, a company e-mail said Friday, an announcement arriving a month after his domestic violence charge was dismissed.handout

Southcoast Health has removed chief executive Keith Hovan from his position, months after he was arrested for an alleged domestic violence assault.

Members of the board of trustees said in an internal e-mail on Friday that they had determined it was “in the best interest of Southcoast Health for Keith Hovan not to return.”

The board said that Dr. Ray Kruger, a surgeon at the hospital for 34 years, would continue to serve as acting president and CEO.

“We thank Mr. Hovan for his past service,” the board wrote in the brief memo.

Hospital spokesman Dan Cence declined to comment further.

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Hovan was arrested on Nov. 6 and charged with domestic assault and battery after Rochester police responded to a call at his home. Police reports said that Hovan and his wife had an argument that escalated while watching TV and that Hovan allegedly struck his wife.

Hovan was arrested on a sole count of a misdemeanor assault and battery, and his wife later posted bail.

Police also said that Hovan had “in excess of forty firearms” located in the home. Responding officers seized the guns and suspended his license to carry. Officers filed an application for a complaint related to possession of an illegal high-capacity feeding device, yet no charges have been filed.

Hovan took a leave of absence days after his arrest, saying the incident had become “an unfair distraction” from the ongoing pandemic. The board said in a separate statement that the leave was effective immediately, and that it was remaining “singularly focused” on the pandemic.

In December, a district court judge dismissed the domestic violence charge, yet the board said it was waiting for the remaining legal issues to resolve.

Over a thousand people signed a petition to remove Hovan from the hospital, with petitioners saying Hovan had broken a cardinal rule of trust hospitals must have when helping victims of both domestic and gun violence.

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Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.bartlett@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByJessBartlett.