Doctor's arrest stuns community
Co-workers of Stonington pediatrician Todd M. Parrilla and parents of his patients attempted Wednesday to digest the news of his arrest on child pornography charges as the FBI continued its investigation of the 47-year-old doctor.
Parrilla was arrested by federal authorities Tuesday after they raided his home at 40 Pellegrino Road and found hundreds of images of child pornography. He is being held without bond at least until Friday, when a federal judge will decide whether he can be released under supervision while his case is pending.
Parrilla was a partner at Westone Pediatrics at 20 South Anguilla Road in Pawcatuck. His partner, Dr. Jeniffer Campo, issued a statement through the practice's attorney Wednesday afternoon indicating the allegations were "a complete shock" to the staff.
"We had no suspicion or reason to believe that Dr. Parrilla would be involved with these types of alleged activities," the statement read. "Moreover, we have no evidence or indication at this time that Dr. Parrilla's alleged actions and activities have any connection to his affiliation and/or practice with Westone Pediatrics."
The statement also noted that the staff is "deeply saddened that one of our doctors, acting independently, has caused such an upheaval in our practice and lives, and the lives of our patients and families."
Jeffrey T. Londregan, the attorney for the practice, said Westone would remain open. "At this point in time it's too new and too fluid of a situation, but her (Campo's) intention now is to offer care to all of their patients," he said.
Some parents found new doctors for their children as soon as they heard the allegations, while at least one family has retained a New London law firm.
Parrilla was placed on administrative leave from Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, where he was on staff, and his membership at the local YMCA was revoked.
Parrilla admitted to agents that he has been collecting child pornography for five years. Federal authorities have not released any evidence indicating that any of Parrilla's patients were victimized, though a prosecutor indicated the government is concerned that two key fobs seized during the search of Parrilla's home could have been used to make surreptitious recordings.
Jacalyn Rose of Westerly said she immediately found a new doctor for her two sons, who had been treated by Parrilla since they were babies. "I am so sick to my stomach," she said. "I thought, 'My God, did he photograph my boys? Are they (pictures) out there forever?' You know with technology you can't get it back."
Many of the sexually explicit images seized by authorities depicted white boys of various ages.
All of the parents who spoke with The Day said they had accompanied their children into the examining room when Parrilla treated them and were unaware of any suspicious actions.
"My wife and I went in on all of the exams," said Dennis Marsh of Westerly. "They were never alone in a room. But just to think what he (the doctor) is thinking, it's very disturbing. It's too close to home. It is home."
Alice M. Forrester, executive director of the Clifford Beers Child Clinic in New Haven, said parents should not necessarily broach the topic unless their children bring it up to them. Then they should try to answer the questions factually and calmly and take the appropriate action, she said.
"If my pediatrician was arrested, I don't know if I would say to the child, 'Did doctor so and so touch you inappropriately?'" Forrester said. "The most important thing is, keep your head about you and be willing to listen."
Some children might see Parrilla on the news, Forrester said. If they ask about it, parents can say he did something wrong and had to be arrested. "Just assure them there are other doctors who will take care of you," she said.
New London attorney Kelly E. Reardon said a family with three children who have been patients of Parrilla for a combined total of 25 years has retained the Reardon Law Firm. She said the firm would be meeting with the family to determine its involvement.
"We have notified the FBI that we are representing some patients," Reardon said. "We don't know exactly what occurred with them, if anything. We're trying to get to the bottom of it."
Maureen Fitzgerald, president and chief executive officer of the Ocean Community YMCA, said Parrilla's membership was revoked as soon as the allegations were made public. She emphasized there is no indication of illegal activity at the Y.
"We obviously want everybody to know this behavior is not tolerated by our Y or any other Y, and that the highest priority is the safety of the children in our programs," Fitzgerald said.
The use of cell phones, which often have cameras, is prohibited everywhere but in the lobby, Fitzgerald said, and anyone who wants to shoot photographs or video must get approval from management.
"These policies are designed to prevent this type of activity," she said. "We're extremely proactive."
Stonington Police Chief Darren Stewart said his department fielded many phone calls Wednesday from parents of Parrilla's patients and other citizens. He said the department is referring the calls to the FBI.
Statement from Westone Pediatrics
The following statement was released Wednesday by Dr. Jeniffer Campo, partner of Stonington pediatrician Todd M. Parrilla. Campo released the statement through New London Attorney Jeffrey T. Londregan.
"Westone Pediatrics first learned of any of the claims and allegations against Dr. Parilla on August 23, 2011, when informed of his arrest by federal authorities. This has come as a complete shock to Westone Pediatrics and its staff. We had no suspicion or reason to believe that Dr. Parilla would be involved with these types of alleged activities. Moreover, we have no evidence or indication at this time that Dr. Parilla's alleged actions and activities have any connection to his affiliation and/orpractice with Westone Pediatrics.
"We have always made the health, safety, and well-being of our patients and their families our primary charge and concern. We are deeply saddened that one of our doctors, acting independently, has caused such an upheaval in our practice and lives, and the lives of our patients and families.
Finally, to all who have called to offer their support to us and our staff in this most difficult time, we thank you for your thoughts, prayers and kind words. We look forward to continuing our relationship with our patients and their families."
Whom to contact
Parents with concerns about Dr. Todd M. Parrilla should contact the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force, which is housed in the main FBI office in New Haven, at (203) 777-6311.
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