Psychiatrist John Lee, Formerly Known As Dirk De Brito, Charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Patient: Medical Board

February 1, 2023

On July 22, 2022, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist John Lee, charging him with sexual exploitation of a patient, sexual misconduct with a patient, and excessive prescribing, among other things. note: The Medical Board of California website profile for John Lee states that he is formerly known as Dirk De Brito. The address of record, in La Canada, is the same for both names.

The Board’s document states that Lee saw “Patient 1,” a female, for six office visits between October 2016 and November 2018, after which he discharged her as his patient. However, the patient stated to the Board that she never saw Lee in his office and never had a physical examination or evaluation by him. Further, she stated that he prescribed medications to her without an office visit and that on at least two of the alleged visits that Lee documented in the patient’s record, she was actually out of town. 

The Board’s document further states:

  • The patient had an intimate, romantic, and sexual relationship with Lee for approximately five years and that the relationship ended after a domestic violence incident in May of 2019.
  • On November 11, 2016, Lee sent the patient an email referring to her as "sweetie."
  • On June 12, 2017, Lee sent the patient an email stating "love you!!!!"
  • On their trip to Greece in 2018, the patient and Lee memorialized a kiss on video.
  • On April 6, 2019, Lee sent the patient an email denying being involved in a romantic relationship with another woman and told the patient, "I DEFINITELY love you." In that email, he also mentioned a ring, suggesting that he had an engagement ring for the patient.
  • The patient stated that during the time that she was in a relationship with Lee, he shared information with her about his medical practice, disciplinary action being sought against him by the Board, and issues he was having at Huntington Memorial Hospital.

Lee had multiple financial arrangements with the patient:

  • He bought patient’s daughter a cell phone.
  • The patient assisted Lee with a property lease agreement and discussed personal matters regarding his property.
  • The patient wrote Lee a check for $7,000.
  • Lee and the patient made arrangements to rent a yacht together. They discussed payment for a boat charter. The patient made flight arrangements for Lee.

Physical assault 

The patient stated that during the time that she was in a relationship with Lee, they went on multiple vacations together, including San Francisco in 2015, Tiburon in 2016, the Virgin Islands in 2017, Seattle, Rome and Greece in 2018, and the Virgin Islands in 2019.

On May 4, 2019, the patient traveled with Lee to the Virgin Islands. They sailed to and from various islands on Respondent's catamaran for two weeks. On the morning of May 16, 2019, the patient stated that Lee physically assaulted her when she did not follow his instructions for handling the boat. She stated that Lee called her derogatory names, punched her in the mouth with a closed fist, threw her down a set of stairs and pushed her to the ground while on his boat in waters off the Virgin Islands.

Lee delayed returning to shore, despite her requests that he allow her off the boat. Later that evening, Lee docked the boat at shore and the patient immediately went to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Station to report that Lee had assaulted her. The police observed that the patient's lip was swollen, and that she appeared to have bruises on her arms, back, leg, and neck. The police deemed the patient’s report to be "genuine."

After completing a report, police officers took the patient to the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority at Pebbles Hospital for emergency department treatment. The medical records reflect that she had multiple bruises and sustained injuries to her eye, lip, back, gluteal area, loin, hip and foot.

Restraining order

When the patient returned to the United States, she sought a restraining order against Lee, based upon the May 16, 2019 assault. Following a hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court wherein both Lee and the patient testified, the Court issued a one-year restraining order against Lee.

The Board declared: “Sexual activity with current and former patients is unethical.” Lee “had an established doctor-patient relationship with Patient 1 [and] sexually exploited Patient 1 by having an intimate relationship with her for approximately five years, which ended in May 2019.”

Previous criminal conviction and Board disciplinary action

In his former identity as Dirk De Brito, Dr. Lee was convicted May 2, 2017 of making criminal threats and assault by means of forces likely to produce great bodily injury, regarding two separate incidents.

In the first incident, in October 2015, De Brito was arrested by police following a complaint that he’d assaulted his son's nanny. De Brito was reported to have grabbed her by the neck, put her into a headlock, pushed her to the floor, and punched her in the face several times. During the incident, De Brito threatened that he was going to kill her and bury her body in his backyard. 

In the second incident, in January 2016, while De Brito was out on bail, he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. In this case, De Brito was reported to have physically assaulted a former employee, upon whom he also pulled a handgun.  

In May 2017, De Brito was sentenced on the criminal conviction to three years’ probation with terms and conditions including attending an anger management program and obtaining a practice monitor within a specified period of time.

On October 4, 2017, the Board suspended De Brito’s medical license on an emergency basis due to the criminal actions. Among the findings of fact presented in the Board’s petition for suspension were that during a Board-ordered psychological evaluation, De Brito "attempted to justify his behavior by explaining that he was being set up by the victims." It also contained information about his lengthy history of psychiatric treatment and that he has been on prescribed amphetamines since he was in his residency. In January 2019, the Board issued a final order, placing De Brito’s medical license on probation for three years.   

Source: Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation against John Lee, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. A66604, Case No. 800-2019-058671, Medical Board of California, July 13, 2022; Order on Petition for Interim Suspension in the Matter of the Ex Parte Petition for Interim Suspension Order against Dirk De Brito, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. A66604, Medical Board of California, October 4, 2017; Case filing 17AHSC06419, as filed in Los Angeles County Court, Alhambra Municipal Division, Oct. 16, 2017; Stipulated Settlement and Disciplinary Order in the Matter of the Accusation Against Dirk De Brito, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. A66604, Medical Board of California, Jan. 25, 2019. 


No comments.

Post your own comment here:

Your Comment