Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001 | 10:26 a.m.
A St. George, Utah, man who believes a popular drug for attention deficit disorder may have caused him to sexually assault a small girl will receive a life sentence with parole possible after five years after agreeing to a plea bargain Tuesday.
The deal came after questions arose about one of the prosecution's expert witnesses.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Abood said the state allowed Steven Bingham, 53, to plead the equivalent of no contest to kidnapping, attempted lewdness and sexual assault Tuesday after a potential problem was discovered with Dr. Corydon Clark's license.
Bingham will be given credit for the year he's already spent in the Clark County Detention Center while awaiting trial, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Authorities allege Bingham sexually assaulted an 8-year-old Overton girl outside the Oasis resort in Mesquite in July 2000. If convicted, he could have received five life sentences.
Bingham later said the only thing he remembers about that evening is doubling up on the drug Adderall because of a missed morning dosage, parking his vehicle at the casino and washing his hands after dinner.
Doctors for the defense believe the drug, which is an amphetamine, caused him to suffer from a psychotic episode. In support of their theory, they were expected to cite three cases in which people accused of murder went free because doctors tied the drug to their actions.
Clark, medical director of the ADD Clinic, was expected to testify, however, that there is no reliable scientific evidence that draws a correlation between Adderall and violent behavior.
Abood said in preparing for trial that an investigator with his office discovered that allegations of inappropriate behavior with boys were made against Clark and action was taken against his license in 1995.
The documents indicate that Clark denied the allegations, but waived his right to a hearing "to avoid the inconvenience and expense of future litigation."
The state of California placed him on probation for six years.
Clark again denied any wrongdoing on Tuesday evening.
Clark said the allegations were lodged against him in retaliation for his testimony at a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing. During the hearing he said he believed many private psychiatric hospitals were illegally institutionalizing California children.
Other doctors who testified were also falsely accused of wrongdoing, Clark said.
Although he was on probation until last month, Clark said he has testified in numerous court proceedings. The Bingham trial is the only case in which his status was an issue, he said.
The doctor said the idea that the licensing issue is relevant to his credibility is "just ridiculous."
"I think it's astounding. It sounds like a clever move by his attorney," Clark said. "The idea that I'm the bad guy here and not the defendant is truly remarkable. This is a remarkable outcome, I must say. It's quite a victory for the defense attorney."
Deputy District Attorney William Kephart said one never knows what a jury will do, and he didn't want to take a chance that the perceived "black mark" against Clark would result in an acquittal.
Kephart said he didn't ask for a postponement of the trial to find a new expert because Clark is considered one of the top doctors in his field.
"We just didn't have the comfort level that we could fend off this ridiculous defense," Kephart said. "It's like the Twinkie defense in which the guy claimed he'd had too much sugar and it caused him to kill someone. The scary thing is defense attorneys can find experts that will actually support these theories."