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Doctor who had tongue bitten by patient found guilty of battery

A Roane County doctor/minister who had his tongue bitten off last year when he stuck it in the mouth of an elderly patient was found guilty of battery, State Police said.

Dr. Kenneth Seen, 53, of Spencer, appeared Wednesday in Roane Circuit Court to learn his fate, Sgt. Michael Baylous said in a news release. Troopers arrested Seen in October 2012 after a woman claimed he'd assaulted her elderly father.

Yvonne Wright went to the State Police detachment in Spencer in September to report that a doctor at Roane General Hospital had assaulted her 77-year-old father John Shafer, Sgt. Fred Hammack told the Daily Mail last year.

The elderly man suffered from dementia and Parkinson's disease. He'd returned to Roane General after receiving treatment at Cabell Huntington Hospital for a broken hip, according to complaints filed at the time.

Shafer was confined to bed and immobilized.

Hospital workers told Wright that Shafer bit the tongue off his attending physician, Seen, in August.

Wright told troopers that the nurses cleaned blood from her father's face and removed part of the doctor's tongue from Shafer's mouth. Shafer wasn't injured in the ordeal, though he died weeks later, in October.

Seen was treated at Roane General and later at Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital.

Seen told physicians at the time that Shafer had motioned for him to come close, and then grabbed his tongue and pulled him closer. He claimed his memory faded after that, and that he could only remember "pain and blood," according to a criminal complaint.

Dr. Jason Fincham, an emergency room doctor at Roane General who treated Seen, told authorities Seen had a "significant portion" of his tongue bitten off and that his claims of how the incident happened "could not be true," Hammack wrote in the complaint.

Fincham said Shafer would have had to bite his own finger for Seen's retelling of events to be true and pointed out that Shafer had no injuries. Fincham said Shafer would not have been able to pick anything up, "let alone grab Dr. Seen's tongue and hold on to it," the complaint said.

The nurses at Roane General agreed Shafer was physically incapable of grabbing Seen.

A State Police investigation turned up evidence disputing Seen's claims.

Seen was charged the same month with assault, battery and child abuse offenses after allegedly punching and shoving a 14-year-old boy at the Christian Society of Roane County church in Spencer, where he served as pastor. It wasn't immediately clear where that matter stood in the court system.

Seen also is the father of Adam K. Seen and Jacob T. Seen, who were sentenced last year to federal prison after admitting they had more than 600 images of child porn in their possession. Adam Seen was an information technology specialist for Roane County Schools before his arrest.

A petition is circulating on to reinstate Seen's medical license, which was suspended by the state Board of Medicine in the days following his arrest. The petition sought Seen's reinstatement so that he could continue his practice at "Cornor Stone Family Medical Clinic" in Spencer.

"This is important due to the large number of patients that are now without any medical care," the petition read. "Our patient (sic) are tax paying people, we live in a rual (sic) county, and his patient load is extensive."

The petition has collected 134 signatures.

Judge Thomas Evans will sentence Kenneth Seen on Dec. 16, Baylous said.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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