SF Weekly Investigation: Creepy Fairfield No Place to Stow Your Wife

Categories: Local News

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​Some observers might have felt tempted to reserve judgment upon hearing news of Supervisor Chris Daly's bizarre family decision to move his wife and kids to Fairfield, a suburb an hour north of here, while he minds the fort in his SoMa condo.

As a former staff reporter for the Fairfield Daily Republic, paper of record to that quietly deranged town, I can tell you that Daly's move is creepier and more frightening than even the most sophisticated local insiders have speculated so far.

Don't take my word for it, however: Instead, read Lisa Davis' October, 1998 SF Weekly cover story The Fairfield Wives. It describes how the leading citizens of that troubled bedroom community came out in force to defend a doctor convicted of performing thousands of needless pelvic exams on perhaps more than 50 female patients.

It's unlikely that Fairfield will again see the exact likes of John Parkinson, the doctor who lost his medical license for sexually abusing patients via lengthy, frequent, and repeated pelvic probes. But Davis' 11,500-word, award-winning saga clearly blames the years-long-impunity he enjoyed on the character of Fairfield.

When I reported on the town during the early 1990s, it was populated by San Francisco Police Department cops and other like-minded Bay Area workers seeking maximum distance from the "scum" of San Francisco; workers at the local Air Force Base and the psychiatric prison 10 miles to the north; and the old-timer Mormons who ran the city.

When word began to surface a few years after I left that Parkinson had been using his practice as veritable conveyor belt of sexual abuse, Fairfield denizens ran several of Parkinson's accusers out of town. Locals harrassed and threatened other women who came forward with complaints that Parkinson had falsely diagnosed them with cancer and other diseases, then "cured" them with treatment that included twice-weekly vaginal exams.

When Parkinson's case was to be heard before the state Medical Board, all Superior Court judges in Solano County disqualified themselves -- so insinuated was the doctor into the cliques that ran Fairfield..

When a Medical Board hearing on Parkinson was scheduled in San Francisco, around 50 Fairfield residents showed up waring green ribbons -- the official symbol for sympathizers with what became "The Committee to Support and Defend Dr. Parkinson."

Parkinson was sentenced in 2000 to six years in prison, but not before more than 125 people wrote letters to the court praising this purportedly morally sound man. Parkinson was released in 2003 after a judge determined one of his jurors was biased against the doctor.

After more than a month spent researching "The Fairfield Wives" former SF Weekly staff writer Davis described an ubiquitous Fairfield creepiness that seemed destined to outlast the Parkinson case.

The place "has an almost surreal, Stepford-esque, David Lynch feel to it," Davis wrote. "John Parkinson represented everything that this community believed in. To believe that he was guilty of the accusations against him meant believing that something vile and disgusting lay behind a man who walked among them, and who led them. If that dark side was somehow inside Dr. Parkinson, it could be inside anyone. And for many people of Fairfield, that prospect was just unthinkable."

Just as unthinkable is the idea that anyone, let alone a lefty-posturing San Francisco politician such as Chris Daly, would choose to stow his wife and children in such a fetid spot,

 

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