Investigation: Doctor with checkered past allowed to practice, arrested again

The Investigators

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – An investigation into a prominent Lowcountry doctor revealed a checkered past of sex crimes.

The pulmonologist, Dr. James Austin Ball, was arrested by Folly Beach Police and charged with ‘Eavesdropping Peeping Voyeurism’ in June 2019.

This is not his first charge for crimes of a sexual nature.

Records from the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners revealed in October 2003 Dr. Ball admitted to exposing his genitals to fast food employees while he was waiting in the drive-through multiple times between August 23 and August 30 2003. He was recording the incidents from the passenger seat by a partially covered camera, according to Board records.   

The records indicate he exposed himself to four employees at the same location. One was a 16-year-old girl.

Dr. Ball began seeing a psychiatrist in September 2003. Later that month, he was arrested for exposing himself.

The Board found that Dr. Ball’s behavior “constituted a serious threat to public health, safety, or welfare,” though no sexual misconduct was reported by his patients.  

His license was suspended by the Board on September 15, 2003.

The doctor checked into a treatment facility, and by November 2003, his doctors recommended Dr. Ball have regular monitoring at work and regular polygraph testing.  

At that time, the Board found Dr. Ball suffered from a mental illness which rendered further medical practice; he failed to follow the law; and he was likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public.

He was fined $10,000.

February 2004,  the Board approved a stay of the indefinite suspension on his license, if he followed terms placed on him: continue treatment, report to the board, and allow his medical records to be reviewed.

He was released from the conditions in 2009 after he filed a petition to be released from the 2004 terms.

According to the June 2019 affidavit from the Folly Beach Police Department, the victims, who were renting his beach house, noticed Dr. Ball peeping through a hole in the wall which led to a shower area that an 18-year-old person had recently used.

The father and son who were staying at the beach house chased Dr. Ball from the home.  When they caught him and questioned him about why he was underneath the house, his initial response was “Oh, I’m the rat guy,” according to the affidavit. Dr. Ball was not authorized to be at the residence, nor did he notify the property manager Avocet properties, or the current renter of his presence, according to the report.

On June 1, 2019, officers and the property manager for Avocet Realty were shown the hidden viewing area found at the residence. After being shown the viewing areas, officers were escorted to another rental property owned by Dr. Ball, which is across the street.

Officers discovered the same type of hidden area with viewing holes.

According to Board records, Dr. Ball is affiliate with Roper Hospital.

However, a spokesperson for Roper, Brian DeRoy, told News 2: “Dr. James A. Ball is not employed and has never been employed by Roper St. Francis Healthcare. He is an independent, community physician. He is not able to currently practice medicine in a Roper St. Francis Healthcare facility.”

Dr. Ball has practiced medicine in the state since 1987.

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