LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction to delay implementation of a law that prohibits registered sex offenders from providing Medicaid-funded services in Arkansas.
Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker, a registered sex offender, alleged in a September lawsuit that the law, approved by the Legislature this year, violates his constitutional rights. The law went into effect Aug. 16.
Parker asked for the preliminary preliminary injunction to halt enforcement pending the outcome of the lawsuit. The case is set for trial July 29.
In a 28-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Bill Wilson said "an appreciable chance of exposing a child of tender years to sexual abuse outweighs any financial harms or inconvenience Act 1504 may cause."
Parker, who practices in Hope, had argued that he provides emergency and general family medical services — including family planning — to rural poor in the state and is a registered provider under the Arkansas Medicaid Program. More than 75 percent of his patients are Medicaid beneficiaries, he said.
Parker was joined in the lawsuit by patients who want him to continue being their families’ primary care doctor.
During a September hearing, lawyers for the state Department of Human Services asked Wilson not to grant the injunction request, arguing that the new law does not prevent Parker from practicing medicine and does not cause irreparable harm to patient health care.
They also argued that granting the injunction "will defeat the long-stated public policy of the state of Arkansas in protecting persons from convicted sex offenders."
In Thursday’s ruling, Wilson noted that some of the pornographic pictures authorities found on Parker’s computer when he was arrested on federal charges included young children.
The judge said he must base his decision "on the particular facts of this case; and Parker has not convinced me by the greater weight of the evidence that one who possesses child pornography of a sadistic nature does not pose a danger to children of tender years."