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Granite Falls physician accused of performing unnecessary pelvic exams on female patient

Dr. Mark Eakes of Granite Falls is facing three felony charges of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing unnecessary pelvic exams on a patient in 2020 and 2021. He made his first court appearance March 21, and will next be in court June 13. In an agreement with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, he is not practicing medicine while the charges are being resolved.

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GRANITE FALLS — A Granite Falls physician is facing three felony charges for criminal sexual conduct with a patient in 2020 and 2021.

Mark Wendell Eakes, 57, made his first court appearance Monday in Yellow Medicine County District Court on three charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by falsely representing a medical purpose.

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Mark Wendell Eakes
Booking photo

He is accused of performing unnecessary pelvic and rectal examinations on a patient, and touching her inappropriately in other ways. The incidents are alleged to have happened in December 2020, June 2021 and September 2021 at Avera Granite Falls Health Center.

Eakes was released on his own recognizance with a number of conditions. They include having no contact with the alleged victim, remaining law-abiding and not possessing firearms or ammunition.

His next court appearance is an omnibus hearing on June 13.

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The patient saw Eakes in December 2020 to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana to help with her medical condition, according to a criminal complaint in the court file.

At that visit, he performed pelvic and rectal examinations with a nurse in the room.

On a second visit in June 2021, the patient saw Eakes for pain management. He had her undress from the waist down, stayed in the room while she disrobed and performed pelvic and rectal examinations without a nurse present, according to the complaint. He also is alleged to have touched her inappropriately, asking if she could feel it. He stopped when she said she was in pain.

In September 2021, the patient again saw him for pain management. According to court records, the patient said Eakes seemed uninterested in what she was saying until she talked about wanting to lose weight.

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She said that the doctor gave her his phone number and asked her to send him photos so he could track her weight loss. He allegedly told her to take the photos while she was in underwear or naked and to send her measurements. He told her she was not the only person sending him photos, according to the criminal complaint.

At the end of that visit, he had the patient undress from the waist down and performed a pelvic exam and again is alleged to have touched her inappropriately. There was no nurse present, according to the complaint. He allegedly talked to her about purchasing a “high-powered vibrator she would use to help her in the bedroom” and used her phone to search for a website that sold them.

After the patient made a complaint to the Granite Falls Police Department, Police Chief Brian Struffert spoke with a neurologist with the University of Minnesota Community Neurological Advisory Committee to ask whether a pelvic exam would have been required at the visits.

The neurologist said the patient had had the condition for which she was seeking treatment for 13 years, and ongoing care would involve imaging, not pelvic exams. Since she did not complain of new or worsening symptoms, the neurologist said pelvic exams would not be medically necessary unless the physician did not have access to her medical records. According to the complaint, clinic records indicated Eakes had reviewed her medical records before the first visit.

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The search on the Avera Health website does not list Eakes on the staff, and he is currently not practicing medicine in the state. Eakes and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice entered into a stipulation agreement in November 2021 that Eakes would cease practicing medicine until the board is able to resolve the allegations against him. The document is a public record.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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