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Alleged fake doctor practiced on Lexington's homeless

To Timothy Lucas, it sounded like easy money.

All he had to do was let a doctor give him a physical exam and he would earn $50 — no small amount for the homeless Lexington man.

Instead, Lucas became one of an unknown number of people allegedly duped by a man posing as a doctor doing medical research. Now that man, Dean Alan Willoughby, 43, is accused of three counts of practicing medicine without a license and is awaiting a hearing in court next week.

Lexington police continue to delve into his practices, charging him with two of the counts on Thursday, and are urging patients to come forward. It is unknown how many people Willoughby might have seen at his office at 841 Corporate Drive, or for how long.

People like Lucas are angry to learn Willoughby not only passed himself off as a doctor, but that he also did the same years ago in South Carolina, where he was convicted and spent time in prison.

"I feel violated," Lucas said Thursday evening at the Catholic Action Center. "If I knew that, I wouldn't have done it."

Lucas and two other men told staff at the center Thursday that they visited Willoughby's office. Lucas said he stripped naked and was given a full physical, from his ears and nose down to his prostate. He was even supposedly tested for sexually transmitted diseases. It all took about 10 minutes.

Willoughby acted professionally and even took notes in a chart, Lucas said.

"It was a basic physical. He said I was healthy," Lucas said with a bemused look on his face. "Why would he even do that if it wasn't legit?"

It is not uncommon for legitimate medical researchers to solicit research subjects for studies at homeless shelters, Catholic Action Center director Ginny Ramsey said.

However, she said Willoughby never contacted the Catholic Action Center, and no staff members knew anyone had gone to the man's office until Thursday.

Others who brought subjects to Willoughby, known to many as "Dr. Dean," were paid $20, according to a search warrant.

"Fifty dollars is a lot of money for our people," Ramsey said, noting that some of them make less than that when they work all day.

"What concerns me," she said, "is that anyone would target the most vulnerable."

A spokeswoman with the Hope Center said organizers did not think Willoughby saw any of its clients.

Attempts to reach Willoughby have been unsuccessful. His address in Mount Sterling has several telephone numbers associated with it, but many of them were disconnected. Messages left at other numbers were not returned.

The address is the same as that of a Christian music publishing company, Alan Publishing Group. Willoughby is listed as president and chief executive, according to the company's Web site.

In 1994, Willoughby created a public health scare among nearly 200 people he examined, many of whom were homeless, according to the Columbia (S.C.) State newspaper.

The then-assistant church pastor pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, aggravated assault and distributing a controlled substance.

A South Carolina prosecutor called him a "bizarre, delusional wannabe," the paper reported.

In an apology in court, Willoughby said he attended college in Kentucky as a music major and wanted to go to medical school, but his recently widowed mother couldn't afford it.

He worked for three months as an emergency room technician before he was "called" to pastor in Columbia.

There, he worked at a mission testing blood pressure and performing other minor tests.

People began calling him "Dr. Willoughby," and "I guess I believed it myself," he said, according to the State.

He also had an exam room in his apartment and prescription pads with his name.

He pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of distributing a controlled substance.

A judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison, suspended to two years.

Lexington police do not know how long Willoughby was examining people here, nor how many.

"We don't even know what kind of ballpark figure we're looking at," Lexington police spokeswoman Ann Gutierrez said. His ruse "could go back several years."

He never obtained a medical license in Kentucky or South Carolina, according to police.

Police first became aware of Willoughby in January. A maintenance man looking to change lights in his office found a naked man standing in the office with photography equipment nearby.

Another person told police of overhearing conversation from some of the "patients," and it was clear they did not know why they were at the office, according to a search warrant filed in Fayette District Court.

Police began surveillance at his office and looked into his background.

They took trash from his home and found numerous pieces of medical waste such as used syringe needles, tongue depressors and swabs.

Police also questioned some of the patients as they left the center. Some came from the Catholic Action Center and described the physical exam.

At least one patient appeared to be a juvenile, according to the search warrant.

Police arrested Willoughby earlier this week, charging him with practicing without a license, and then followed with the two additional charges on Thursday.

Gutierrez said there is a concern that he is using information gathered from the exam subjects for other purposes, but she declined to elaborate on that.

"We strongly believe patients were exploited for purposes they had no knowledge of," she said.

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