Gosnell co-defendant gets house arrest for theft

PHILADELPHIA - July 9, 2013

Dr. Eileen O'Neill did not perform abortions, but billed for her work with geriatric patients when she did not have a Pennsylvania medical license.

Prosecutors question why she stayed at Gosnell's clinic for nine years, despite woeful conditions all around her: untrained staff, unsanitary equipment, and the stream of people arriving for late-term abortions or illicit painkiller prescriptions.

Gosnell, 72, is serving life without parole for killing three babies born alive during unorthodox abortions. Authorities alleged he used scissors to sever their spinal cords.

"She kept saying she didn't know these other things were going on there. You'd have to be deaf, dumb, blind and stupid," Assistant District Joanne Pescatore argued.

O'Neill, 56, was sentenced to six to 23 months of house arrest at her Phoenixville home, in part so she can care for an elderly mother.

"She didn't like (Gosnell) at all. ... I think they disagreed quite a bit," defense lawyer James Berardinelli said. "He was a manipulator. He had convinced her that she had to stick with him in order to get a license in Pennsylvania."

Berardinelli said that O'Neill will likely never practice medicine again, given her convictions for theft and conspiracy.

O'Neill, a former paralegal, attended medical school in Texas, but was then kicked out of a Louisiana State University residency program after she performed a botched abortion on a mentally disabled teenager, Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said Monday. The procedure left the girl with a permanent colostomy bag, she said.

O'Neill performed the abortion while moonlighting at a clinic linked to one in Delaware where Gosnell worked.

O'Neill finished her family practice residency at Reading Hospital, then made her way to Gosnell's clinic, the Women's Medical Society, in West Philadelphia. She was among nine clinic employees charged with Gosnell in a gruesome 2011 indictment, and the only one to go to trial with him after the others pleaded guilty.

Patients testified that O'Neill was a caring physician who kept a neat office, but also said they thought she was licensed. A friend described her as a good-hearted person who lacked common sense.

Gosnell last week pleaded guilty to federal drug distribution charges for the large-scale painkiller distribution. He is awaiting sentencing in that case, but any time given will be moot, given the life terms he must serve in state prison.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.