(03/31/2014)
By David Hedges, Publisher
Times Record-Roane County Reporter

A Spencer physician convicted of battery for an incident that occurred in a hospital room has pled guilty to another battery charge, this time for something that occurred while he was serving as a church pastor.

The victim in the first case, which went to trial last October was an elderly man with dementia, This time it was a teenager.

Dr. Kenneth Seen, 53, was scheduled for trial on a felony child abuse charge that alleged he hit a l4-year-old boy with his fist and shoved him into a refrigerator.

Seen appeared before Roane Circuit Judge Tom Evans Friday and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of battery.

In exchange, prosecutor Josh Downey agreed to dismiss a felony charge of child abuse creating a risk of injury and another misdemeanor charge of assault, both stemming from the same incident.

This will be Seen's second battery conviction in the past six months. Last year he was convicted of placing his tongue inside the mouth of an elderly patient at Roane General Hospital before the man bit off part of Seen's tongue.

Folice said the incident with the teenager occurred in a storefront church on Main Street in Spencer, the Christian Society of Roane County, which has since closed. Seen was pastor of the church.

Police said Seen had picked up the alleged victim and his l5-year-old brother at their home in Reedy and brought them to a Sunday night service in October 2012.

The victim was sitting on a ledge with his cell phone and a pocketknife when Seen told him to get down. The boy complied, but the charges claim he got back up on the ledge to get his phone when Seen grabbed him by the waist and threw him down.

Seen allegedly straddled him and struck him several times in the back with his fist, according to police.

The altercation moved to a back room where Seen allegedly pushed the boy into a refrigerator and slapped him across the face.

Police obtained statements from three other boys, including the alleged victim's older brother. Seen was the only adult present. The boy sustained some bruises, according to his father, but was not seriously injured.

Downey said he had the victim in mind when he accepted the plea.

"One of the things I always take into consideration is if we can get an outcome that's acceptable and keep a juvenile from having to testify," Downey said.

"Every case has its strengths and weaknesses," Downey said. "If we went to trial we were very confident we could have gotten at least a battery conviction."

Seen did not speak at the plea hearing, accept to give short answers to questions asked by Evans as part of the plea process.

His attorney, Benjamin Bryant of the Charleston firm of Carey, Scott, Douglas and Kessler, told Evans his client conceded there was an unlawful restraint issue that was enough to sustain a misdemeanor battery conviction.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Evans set sentencing in the case for Friday, April 25 at l0:30 a.m.

Evans also heard the evidence in the trial on the other charge last October, after Seen waived his right to a jury trial.

Seen was represented by Ripley attorney David Moore in that case.

In that case, Seen was examining a 77-year-old in the man's hospital room. Seen testified that the patient rose up in his hospital bed and bit off part of Seen's tongue.

Hospital workers who were unaware the incident had occurred later found part of Seen's tongue in the man's mouth.

Evans found Seen guilty and sentenced him to two years probation and ordered him to pay a $500 fine and perform 300 hours community service.

Evans found the crime was sexually motivated and ruled Seen must register as a sex offender for the next l0 years.

Seen's medical license was suspended after his arrest on the two sets of charges in October 2012.

A hearing by the state medical board on the suspension was postponed, at Seen's request, pending the outcome of the criminal cases.


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