Erlanger Western Carolina doctor charged with 16 felonies including human trafficking and sexual offenses
A longtime doctor in Western North Carolina and chief of staff at Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy has been arrested and charged with 16 felonies including human trafficking and sexual offenses.
A Cherokee County grand jury issued indictments on March 21, charging Dr. Thomas Vann Clayton with three counts of human trafficking, four counts of first-degree forcible sexual offense, and nine counts of sexual contact or penetration under pretext of medical treatment, according to a press release from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
An Erlanger spokesperson confirmed Clayton’s employment and said he is on administrative leave without pay until further notice.
The Tennessee-based health system operates seven hospitals and seven emergency centers. Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital’s CEO Stephanie Boyton, who began as the center’s leader in 2020, is also the CEO of Erlanger Bledsoe in Pikeville, Tennessee which includes the Sequatchie Valley Emergency Department in Dunlap, Tennessee.
“We are not able to comment at this time since this is a legal matter, but will be fully cooperating with law enforcement,” the official said in a statement.
Clayton was first arrested at his Andrews residence on the afternoon of March 3, according to a press release from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. At that time, he was charged with four counts of sexual contact or penetration under pretext of medical treatment.
Clayton was rearrested on March 20, 2023, following the grand jury indictments. A Superior Court judge ordered Clayton to be held on a $1,000,000 secured bond. The investigation is ongoing, according to the Sheriff’s Office.