New Cherry Hospital Medical Director On Leave: Has Criminal Conviction

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The new acting medical director of a facility that treats mentally ill patients all across Eastern Carolina is suspended from his job just as WITN started asking questions about his past, involving a conviction for a sex crime.

Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, Wayne County is a psychiatric hospital serving 33 Eastern Carolina counties from adults to children. But one physician has a past, according to North Carolina offender's website, involving indecent liberties with a nine-year-old girl almost 20 years ago.

It is disturbing news to a hospital employee who says he had to speak up. The employee, who wants to remain anonymous, contacted the hospital in May about Dr. Robert Carl Owens and his past conviction.

But on July 19th, administrators gave doctor Owens a promotion to acting medical director, raising his salary nearly $8,000 to $166,100.

A spokesperson with the Department of Health and Human Services says Owens would not have treated children at the hospital, but could have come in contact with them.

Thursday, we were told Owens was on paid leave during this internal investigation.

We'll continue to follow this story and bring you the latest developments.