COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Medical Board has permanently revoked the license of Southwest General Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Banks following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct with a teen girl.
In a 61-page decision officially handed down Wednesday, the board chastised Banks for committing what they believe were multiple felonies in 2011 when he allegedly exchanged nude photos with a 17-year-old. They also called his own testimony on the matter "not credible" based on the evidence they had reviewed, and accused him of initiating "a calculated but efficient grooming process" when he began a sexual relationship with the minor.
"When this Board licenses a physician, one of the most important aspects it must be assured of is that the licensee is worthy of the public’s trust," the report read. "The facts of this case suggest that Dr. Banks is not worthy of that trust."
3News Investigates' Lynna Lai first brought Banks' case into the public eye last April, as the medical board had reopened dozens of old cases following backlash related to sexual abuse claims against former Ohio State University athletic physician Dr. Richard Strauss. While the sexual relationship between Banks and the girl was legal, since the state's age of consent is 16, the exchange of explicit photographs would have been against the law.
The teen, who first met Banks when she worked as a junior assistant at Southwest General at the age of 14, reported the doctor's actions to Middleburg Heights police back in 2011 with the help of her aunt. Though prosecutors ultimately declined to press charges against Banks, WKYC obtained documents showing the hospital knew of the allegations and that the married father of two had admitted to sending graphic pictures to the girl.
In spite of this, Banks remained employed, even serving as Southwest General's elected chair of surgery from 2017-20. Authorities also told 3News the now-56-year-old reached an out-of-court settlement with the girl's family, paying an undisclosed amount of money and avoiding criminal charges.
"If he were a janitor, if he was somebody working in the kitchen, they wouldn't have kept their job," the teen's aunt told 3News Investigates last year. "They would have been fired on the spot."
When reached by WKYC for comment Thursday, the hospital confirmed Banks is no longer under its employ, although officials did not specify whether he had resigned or been fired. They also declined to say if the Rocky River native faced any discipline when the allegations first came to light 12 years ago.
"Southwest General Health Center respects the decision of the State Medical Board of Ohio," spokesperson Albert E. Matyas wrote. "Michael A. Banks is no longer on the Southwest General Medical Staff."
Calling Banks' actions "premeditated" and "reprehensible," the medical board revoked his license by a unanimous vote of 7-0, with Dr. Kim G. Rothermel and Dr. Mark A. Bechtel abstaining. Rothermel, who serves as the body's secretary, sent Banks a signed letter informing him of his right to appeal.
Due to the nature of the allegations, 3News is not revealing the aunt's name in order to protect her niece's identity. You can read the full decision below: