Prominent Charlotte eye doctor tested positive for cocaine, state board says

Prominent Charlotte eye doctor tested positive for cocaine, state board says

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - Prominent Charlotte physician Jonathan Christenbury tested positive for cocaine during a drug screening test in November, the N.C. Medical Board disclosed Friday.

Christenbury admitted to ingesting the drug in October to alleviate depression, according to a legal notice filed by the board.

The eye doctor had surrendered his license to practice in North Carolina on Nov. 29, the day after the board learned of the positive test result, the board said.

The board cited the drug use in its legal notice. Christenbury was ordered to appear before the board this summer to address the drug use and sexual harassment claims.

Christenbury could not be reached for comment Friday night.

He faces two sexual harassment lawsuits and settled a third, the Observer reported in March.

The lawsuits include one by a former Charlotte Hornets "Honey Bee" dancer who served as the doctor's executive assistant. She accused Christenbury of harassment, assault and battery, and wrongful termination, among other allegations.

Another former member of the Hornets' dance troupe alleges similar behavior by Christenbury, including inappropriate touching and a stream of emails pressuring her for sex, the Observer has reported.

The doctor settled a third suit in January by a married mother of two who also worked as his assistant. In that lawsuit, she said Christenbury peppered her with questions about her sex life.

The women's complaints say Christenbury, 63, had a pattern of first hiring then preying upon "beautiful young women." When they resisted, he became enraged, threatened their jobs and frequently withheld their pay, according to their complaints.

All of the women said they were in their 20s when Christenbury hired them. They said they were sexually harassed despite refusing his advances, their lawsuits said.

In Friday's "notice of charges and allegations" against Christenbury, the medical board also cited the sexual harassment claims. What's new are the revelations of cocaine use.

The board's legal filing said Christenbury was unable to walk straight last Oct. 20 and banged into a metal handrail on a ramp leading to the back door of his practice.

A staff member opened the door for him because he had trouble with his keys, according to the filing. His speech was slurred and he seemed disoriented, the document said.

Later that day, a patient asked for another doctor because Christenbury tried to perform surgery on the same eye twice, according to the medical board.

Because of his drug use, the board said in its filing, state law allows the board to "annul, suspend, revoke or limit" his license to practice medicine -- even though he already has surrendered it.

The board has scheduled a hearing on the charges for 8 a.m. June 21 at the board's offices in Raleigh.