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Doctor facing charges after having his tongue bitten off

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Roane County doctor/minister had part of his tongue bitten off but he is the one police are charging with assault.

He also faces separate charges of brutally beating a teenager at the church he operates in Spencer.

Dr. Kenneth Seen, 52, of Spencer was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of battery, assault and child abuse creating the risk of injury. Authorities believe he stuck his tongue in an elderly patient's mouth, and the man then bit off a "significant" portion of Seen's tongue.

The investigation began on Sept. 18 when Yvonne Wright came to the State Police detachment in Spencer to report a doctor at Roane General Hospital had assaulted her father on Aug. 31, said Sgt. F.L. Hammack. 

John Shafer, 77, a long-term patient at Roane General who suffered from dementia and Parkinson's Disease, was transferred back to the Roane County hospital from Cabell Huntington Hospital after being treated for a broken hip, according to a complaint filed in Roane Magistrate Court.

He was confined to bed and immobilized at the time, Hammack said.

Hospital workers told Wright her father bit the tongue of his attending physician, identified as Seen. Wright said the nurses on duty cleaned blood from her father's face and removed an item, which Hammack said was part of Seen's tongue, from Shafer's mouth.

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

Shafer, who did not want to discuss the incident at the time, suffered no injuries in the ordeal. He died Oct. 26.

Troopers obtained a search warrant for Seen's medical records. Seen's statement on the incident was included in the report.

Seen told physicians that Shafer motioned for him to come close, and then grabbed his tongue, pulling Seen closer to him. After that, the doctor's "memory fades," according to the complaint.

"His statement claimed he just remembered pain and blood," Hammack wrote in the complaint.

Dr. Jason Fincham, an emergency room doctor who treated Seen's injuries, told authorities he doctor had a "significant portion" of his tongue bitten off. 

"When presented with Dr. Seen's statement of how it happened, Dr. Fincham stated that it could not be true," Hammack wrote.

Fincham said for Seen's account to be true, Shafer would have also bitten his own finger. Shafer showed no injury. Fincham said Shafer would not have been able to pick up any item, "let alone grab Dr. Seen's tongue and hold on to it," the complaint said.

Nurses who tended to Shafer and Seen said Shafer was never aggressive toward them before or after the incident. He said the nurses all agreed that Shafer was not physically able to grab the doctor.

Seen apparently told CAMC doctors a different story about the matter, according to the complaint. Details of the differing story weren't available. 

"We started investigating and four search warrants later, all of the evidence suggests Dr. Seen's account is untrue," Hammack said. "Dr. Seen placed his tongue in the victim's mouth. There is no way Dr. Seen's account is true."

Seen was charged with battery, a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail and a fine of no more than $500.

Hammack said the alleged crime was sexual in nature but that there was no law on the books to cover that type of crime.

Seen also faces assault, battery and child abuse charges for an alleged incident that occurred Oct. 7 at the church in Spencer where Seen is pastor.

Spencer police asked Hammack to look into the matter because the victim, a 14-year-old boy, is the son of a city employee.

The boy told Hammack that Seen picked him and his brother up to take them to church at the Christian Society of Roane County in Spencer. He said he was sitting on a ledge over the entrance and had his knife and cellphone when Seen told him to come down.

The teen said he complied but when he went back up to get his items that Seen grabbed him and threw him to the ground. He said Seen got onto his back and began punching him repeatedly.

Seen then allegedly took the boy to a back room of the church and shoved him against a refrigerator. The boy said Seen used a profanity and slapped him across the face.

Three other teens who witnessed the incident gave Hammack the same account. No other adults were around at the time of the incident.

Seen is the father of Adam K. Seen, 25, and Jacob T. Seen, 23, who both were sentenced in June to federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

The brothers admitted to having more than 600 images of child porn in their possession. Adam Seen worked as an information technology specialist for Roane County Schools before his arrest.

Hammack said the investigation is ongoing.

Kenneth Seen was free on bond Thursday.

Calls to Roane General Hospital were not immediately returned.


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