Three women who accused a prominent Newburyport psychiatrist of drawing them into demeaning sexual relationships while he was treating them for depression have settled medical malpractice lawsuits that alleged he preyed on vulnerable patients.
Lawyers for Dr. Keith R. Ablow, a nationally known author and former Fox News contributor, and the three accusers recently reached out-of-court settlements, according to court filings.
The terms and settlement sums were not disclosed.
In their lawsuits, the women alleged they traveled from out of state to be treated by Ablow, 57, in Newburyport, where their relationships eventually turned sexual. While under Ablow’s care, all three said they received infusions of the anesthetic Ketamine to treat depression.
Two of the women alleged Ablow charged them for therapy during meetings where they engaged in sex acts.
During some sexual encounters, the women said Ablow beat them with a belt with a skull-shaped buckle and told one words to the effect of “I own you,” and “You are my slave.”
The same woman wrote in an affidavit that she had Ablow’s Facebook name tattooed on her inner forearm.
Reached Tuesday, attorney Clyde D. Bergstresser, who represents the three women, declined to comment.
Bergstresser and lawyers for Ablow were scheduled to be in Essex Superior Court in Salem on Wednesday for a hearing on the women’s request to prevent Ablow from selling or transferring assets valued at more than $25,000 while the cases were pending.
The hearing was canceled.
In February, Ablow published a tweet saying he “categorically, completely” denied the allegations in the lawsuits.
Attorney Paul Cirel, who represents Ablow, said his client is now focused on getting his medical license reinstated in Massachusetts where regulators barred him from practicing medicine last month after concluding he poses “an immediate and serious threat to public health.”
“We are pleased that the civil matters have been amicably resolved so that Dr. Ablow can now focus his attention and resources on overturning the Board of Medicine’s order of temporary suspension, so that he can restore his medical license and resume helping patients into the future, as he has countless times in the past,” Cirel said Tuesday in an e-mail.
Hearings on Ablow’s medical license are scheduled to begin in October before the state Division of Administrative Law Appeals. New York authorities have also suspended Ablow’s medical license.
The women used their real names in the lawsuits, but the Globe is withholding their identities because the newspaper does not identify victims of alleged sexual abuse without their consent.
In May, a different medical malpractice case filed against Ablow in 2016 settled shortly before trial. Details of the agreement weren’t filed in court.
In that case, a 55-year-old antiques dealer from Cape Cod accused Ablow of crossing clinical boundaries by e-mailing and texting her outside of therapy sessions, helping her open a store in Newburyport, prescribing medications for her family members, and suggesting she have an affair with help from the online dating service Ashley Madison.
The company’s famous slogan is: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
The lawsuit didn’t accuse Ablow of sexual misconduct.
In court papers, Ablow’s lawyers said his treatment was within the standard of care and “is to be viewed in the context of the development of communicative technology” and that the patient’s ability to “reach, check in, and otherwise contact her psychiatrist was valuable.”
The treatment, Ablow’s lawyers said, was a “great success, and had resulted in substantial improvements in various spheres of plaintiff’s life activity.”
Ablow, who lives in Newbury, is a prolific author and worked for the Fox News network until 2017.
He has testified as a defense witness in the high-profile trials of Dr. Richard Sharpe, who was convicted of killing his wife in Wenham, and Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter , the German national serving time for murder in California who pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller dynasty.
Ablow has also pursued various business interests, including a wellness spa in Newburyport, a Ketamine clinic at his psychiatric office, and a now-defunct life-coaching business.
The suspension of his medical license has affected other parts of Ablow’s life, including his license to carry a firearm, records show.
Newbury Police Chief Michael A. Reilly suspended Ablow’s license on May 20, concluding that allegations levied by state medical regulators “give rise to concerns about your suitability to possess firearms.”
Reilly ordered Ablow to turn in his firearms, according to a letter filed in Newburyport District Court.
Ablow is appealing the suspension of his license to carry. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for September.