On April 24, a day after a Weems paramedic was arrested on charges he touched a patient inappropriately during a transport, Weems Memorial Hospital CEO H.D. Cannington issued a statement.
Cannington said a criminal background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted on Robert E. Lee Major, prior to his Sept. 3, 2018 hiring, “did not indicate a criminal record, and we had no indication of such behavior in his past or he would never have been hired.
“We did not know he had ever worked in Michigan, or he was ever licensed in Michigan,” Cannington said. “He did not disclose that.”
The CEO said the hospital relied on references for Major from DeKalb County EMS, in Fort Payne, in northern Alabama, where he was working just prior to starting at Weems.
One likely reason Major did not share information on his work history with Mecosta County Emergency Medical Services, in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, is that nine weeks prior to being hired at Weems, his paramedic’s license in that state had been suspended, on the grounds he committed a work-related sexual act similar to what he is accused of in Franklin County.
Rather than contest his June 27 emergency suspension order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Major waived his right to be part of a July 2 administrative hearing and to this day his license remains suspended in that state.
But, with an unblemished Florida license he first secured Feb. 1, 2017, the 44-year-old was back working as a paramedic in a Weems ambulance a little more than two months after he is alleged to have put his hands down an adult Michigan woman’s pants and touched her pubic area, both during transport to the hospital and later at the patient’s residence.
“The patient also alleged (Major) made repeated telephone calls to her residence,” reads an excerpt from the emergency suspension order. “The patient alleged that a telephone message left by (Major) was inappropriate.”
The suspension order says a week after the incident allegedly occurred, the woman went to the Mecosta County sheriff’s department. The sergeant who then interviewed Major found the woman’s name had been saved on Major’s cell phone under her first name, and that three calls had been made to her from that cell phone.
A day later, the director of Mecosta County EMS fired Major, and three days after that the North Central Michigan Medical Control Authority suspended his medical privileges and notified the state as to why.
What also happened, according to a spokeswoman from the Mecosta County sheriff’s office, is that the results of the sergeant’s investigation were turned over Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian E. Thiede, to determine what, if anything, should be done next.
No arrest of Major was made in Michigan, according to a review of online public records in the circuit court serving Mecosta County. A woman who answered the telephone Tuesday at Thiede’s office said no public information would be provided on the case, and declined any further comment.
Had an arrest been made in the Michigan case, that may have shown up on Weems’ criminal background check and also come to the attention of the Florida Department of Health.
“Robert Major’s license is clear and active with no public complaints or discipline,” said a Florida Department of Health spokesman.
Citing Florida statutes regarding confidentiality of disciplinary proceedings against health care professionals, he declined to answer questions as to whether Florida officials were made aware of Michigan’s June 27 emergency suspension order.
Here in Franklin County, Major remains held without bond, charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of an elderly or disabled person, a second-degree felony. Three of these counts stem from contact with a Carrabelle woman, who has alleged that on three separate occasions, dating back to January, Major behaved inappropriately during a transport.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Lt. James Hamm, the woman said that during her first transport, Major told the two other staffers in the ambulance to ride up front while he tended to her in the back.
The woman was cold, and asked for a blanket, which led to Major telling her to put her hand on his, according to the report. It also noted the woman said Major told her that “by placing her hands on his, and moving them around on her body, it would warm her up.”
The woman said Major moved his hand under her shirt to her breast, and later down to her genitals. The woman told Hamm she did not feel comfortable with what Major was doing, and that while in transport to Sacred Heart Hospital in Port St. Joe, he acted as if he was checking on the IV in her arm, while placing his hand on her legs and genitals. She said she removed his hand, but he continued.
The woman said a similar occurrence took place on a later transport that month, with Major “touching her body and that she would be warmer.” She indicated that she was scared to say anything, and feared Major might have placed something in her IV.
On a third transport in April, to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, the woman said Major repeated the action of “feeling on her body by holding her hand on his. (She said) she would pull her hand away and that Major would say no, no, they say you’ll warm up by keeping your hands with someone,” read the report.
The woman said that at other times in which she was transported by ambulance, “no other EMS personnel had checked her like Major had.”
A second Carrabelle woman also reported an incident to the sheriff’s office, and the fourth charge was added based on that.
Major is being represented on an interim basis by Public Defender Courtenay Miller, after Circuit Judge Charles Dodson determined Major did not meet the criteria for being indigent, since he reported take home income of $500 a week.
In addition, based on a motion submitted by State Attorney Jack Campbell to hold Major in jail, it appears he will be facing charges in Michigan based on the May 2018 incident in Mecosta County.
“The defendant currently has a warrant from (Michigan) which facts mirror almost exactly the facts of this case,” reads Campbell’s motion. “He left Michigan’s jurisdiction and came to Florida and has committed the same crime multiple times on multiple victims.
“Michigan intends to extradite (Major) to face charges there,” the motion notes.