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FAYETTE, Ala. (WIAT) — Erin Reeves spoke up. Now, Alabama has revoked the medical license of her former employer, Robert Bolling, who state medical licensure officials found to be “unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to his patients.”
The decision was announced Monday, according to a statement from the board.
Erin Reeves said she couldn’t have been clearer. Multiple times, she’d told her former boss, then-Dr. Robert Bolling, that he was being inappropriate. But again and again, he’d refused to listen.
In 2021, more than a year after that incident, Bolling, a plastic surgeon, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment of Erin Reeves. But the impact of her speaking out wouldn’t end there.
In June, the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission temporarily suspended Bolling’s medical license pending a hearing, publishing a damning complaint by the body documenting numerous allegations against the Fayette doctor. The complaint made clear: Reeves wasn’t alone.
The complaint outlined information gathered during a psychological evaluation of Bolling by Acumen Assessment, a psychological and behavioral service provider. Professional evaluators at Acumen, the complaint said, found Bolling “unfit for duty.”
The report concluded that Bolling had “engaged in professional sexual misconduct with at least five patients and three employees/colleagues in which he utilized his position of power to influence these individuals into having sexual encounters.”
When asked during a polygraph whether he’d ever inappropriately touched or fondled a patient while conducting an exam or providing medical treatment, Bolling “demonstrated a significant reaction,” according to the report.
“He continues to find himself acting out and looking for individuals to groom,” the report said.
Erin Reeves said that at this point, she’s not surprised by the details contained in the complaint. But in the beginning, when she first met Bolling, she had no idea the negative impact he’d have on her life.
Reeves didn’t just apply for a job at Bolling Plastic Surgery. She was recruited. At the time, she was flattered. But now, years later, she said she thinks she was offered a job not based on merit, but based on her looks.
Reeves had worked hard to earn a reputation as an outstanding surgical tech during her time at Winfield Hospital, and it was paying off. When Bolling Plastic Surgery reached out to her about a position, she jumped at the opportunity.
When she began the job, she loved it. The pay was better, and Reeves felt like she was doing good work.
Looking back, Reeves said there were early warning signs that Bolling may have had bad intentions. During consultations with clients seeking plastic surgery, Bolling would use Reeves as a prop.
“Turn around,” Reeves remembers Bolling say. “This is what a good, natural butt looks like. This is what good, natural lips look like.”
At the time, Reeves said she didn’t consider the behavior inappropriate “because of what we do at the workplace.”
“It didn’t make me feel like he was trying to sexualize me,” she said.
Reeves’ perspective began to change one day when an argument broke out in the workplace.
“People were screaming in the hallway,” Reeves said. She left an exam room and told the employees in the hallway to take the fight outside. “We have patients. You can’t be doing this in here.”
According to Reeves, she found out that the argument had been related to a sexual relationship between Bolling and another employee. Bolling’s wife had found messages revealing the relationship and fired the employee in question, Reeves said. When she asked office staff about the incident, she was told that the employee was still being paid.
“The agreement was that she was fired but she still gets paid,” Reeves said.
With this revelation, Reeves began questioning Bolling’s character, wondering about the moments during patient consultations when her body had been put on display. She pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind.
Soon, though, things would come to a head. One Saturday in 2020, Reeves attended a small get-together at a coworker’s home. The coworker asked Reeves to let Dr. Bolling and his wife know they were invited. She texted Bolling, and his reply shocked her.
“I’m going to fill (sic) you up,” he wrote.
Reeves said she immediately texted Bolling’s wife, relaying what he’d said and asking that she come to the gathering without him. Reeves didn’t receive a response, and minutes later, Dr. Bolling and his wife arrived.
Because of the message, Reeves said she’d assumed Bolling was drunk, but he didn’t seem intoxicated when he arrived. Bolling told the licensure commission he’d informed Reeves he was drunk.
“We go to play darts, and that’s when he starts getting touchy-feely,” Reeves said. “Every time he’d go past me, he’d slap my butt. I kept telling him to stop. It’s inappropriate.”
Bolling’s wife witnessed the touching and didn’t intervene, Reeves said. Reeves called her boyfriend at the time, who was a sheriff’s deputy, telling him that Bolling was making her feel uncomfortable. She asked the deputy to come get her, hoping that would curb Reeves’ inappropriate behavior. It would not.
“He walked over to me and stands in between my legs and starts rubbing on my thighs,” she said. “I pushed him off me again and told him ‘Do not touch me like that.’”
Reeves got up and walked outside. Bolling and his wife followed. Reeves again told Bolling he was being inappropriate and that he needed to go home. His wife, Reeves said, finally agreed.
At that point, Bolling approached Reeves and another coworker, wrapping his arms around them in an embrace.
“He starts kissing her on the head and the cheek, and I push myself away,” she said.
“Where are you going?” Reeves remembered Bolling asking her.
“He grabs me from the front of my body, has me pinned down against the wall and will not let me go,” she said. “He’s kissing all over my face, all over my mouth.”
Reeves was telling Bolling to stop and physically resisting him.
“He takes his hand and puts it around my back, rubbing all over my butt, going enough under my butt to the point where he’s grabbing my vagina, saying ‘Do you like it?’ And I’m screaming at him to get off of me,” Reeves said.
Bolling’s wife never said a word, according to Reeves.
“I finally get my arm out and slap the s— out of him,” she said. “They leave, and my boyfriend pulls in.”
Immediately, Reeves made the decision that she’d never work at Bolling Plastic Surgery again. On Tuesday, she said she received a call from the office manager at Bolling’s office.
“She calls me and says, ‘How much money will it take for you not to press charges?’” Reeves recalled.
Reeves responded without a pause: “I don’t want your money.”
Reeves reported the crime, and Bolling was charged with sexual misconduct. Months later, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment, a misdemeanor.
Reeves said that while she wasn’t happy that he was able to plead to lesser charges, she is glad the whole situation is behind her. She’s never received an apology from Bolling, but she said she doesn’t want one.
“He’s sorry he got caught up, not sorry about what he did,” Reeves said.
Reeves said that she hopes anyone else victimized by Bolling chooses to speak out about what happened to them.
“I almost kept quiet, and I’m glad I didn’t,” she said. “I almost didn’t report it because I thought no one was going to believe me. But don’t be quiet because of who he is. That’s the biggest thing.”
Monday’s announcement means that Bolling will no longer be able to practice medicine in Alabama.
“A patient has the right to trust and believe that a physician is dedicated solely to the patient’s best interests,” the board’s statement on the matter said. “Introduction of sexual behavior into the professional relationship violates this trust because the physician’s own personal interests compete with the interests of the patient.”
CBS 42 reached out to Robert Bolling for comment on this story but had not heard back as of publication time.