More MS news articles for July 2000

Court tosses out fraud charges against healer

Law ruled too vague; state will seek to clarify language

By Joel Kurth / The Detroit News

PONTIAC -- A woman accused of pushing vitamins as cures to cancer and using electronic rays to diagnose patients has escaped criminal charges because of a vague law.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Deborah Tyner on Wednesday quashed charges of practicing medicine without a license against Rebecca Rogers, 54, who was arrested by state police in March following an undercover sting at her Berkley practice.

Tyner ruled the law unconstitutional, saying its language is so far-reaching that it criminalized almost any type of medical advice -- even between friends. Prosecutors intend to petition the Legislature to fine-tune the long-standing statute, said Matthew Martin, assistant prosecutor.

"It's disappointing in light of what Rogers was charged with, but we have other options," he said.

In the next few weeks, prosecutors will decide whether to appeal or charge Rogers with committing larceny under false pretenses, a felony punishable by up to 10 years. The other crime carried only a four-year sentence.

Her attorney, Daniel Rex, did not return phone calls for comment Thursday.

Rogers hung out a shingle, invented an impressive medical background, called herself a doctor and used something called a Phase X Body Scan to identify mysterious ailments plaguing patients, Martin said.

The so-called "dermal screenings" cost $150, and her over-the-counter vitamin panaceas cost a few hundred dollars more, prosecutors claim.

While Rogers never endangered the health of her clients, Martin said her diagnoses were sometimes wildly inaccurate.

She told a boy with an ear infection that he had a brain aneurysm; misidentified multiple sclerosis as spinal bacteria; and told an undercover state police trooper complaining of back pain that cancer was spreading in his pancreas and stomach, Martin said.