ROGERSVILLE — For the past year, scores of patients and parents of patients have been defending Rogersville pediatrician Dr. Chris Calendine on social media.
The people who knew him best couldn't believe, or didn't want to believe, that he would be capable of sexually abusing two boys ages 12 and 14.
After he was initially charged in August 2017, there was a tidal wave of comments on Facebook proclaiming his innocence.
One mother of a Calendine patient wrote, “I truly still believe he's innocent and if it turns out to be that way, those 2 boys should go on the record as being liars and be charged for the fact.”
Another mom wrote, “I've seen so many false allegations over the years, and Calendine was always an amazing doctor with my two boys and daughter. Kids see so much crap on the internet and get stupid ideas, I really have to wonder if there's any truth to it. Getting drunk at a basketball game is a far cry from aggravated sexual abuse on minors.”
Calendine earned that loyalty and support for a reason. For 17 years, he was not only a highly respected local pediatrician, he was also a part of the community and generous with his money and time.
Many of his supporters stood loyal, even when three men came forward and testified in Hawkins County Criminal Court this past July that Calendine either sexually abused them or attempted to sexually abuse them when they were youths.
Public support for Calendine began to wane, however, after he was additionally indicted last month on 39 counts of identity theft related to a prescription fraud scheme.
On Monday, Calendine was sentenced to six months in jail and eight years on probation in exchange for guilty pleas to both counts of sexual battery, as well as all 39 identity theft charges. He also forfeits his medical license and will be on the sex offender registry for life.
Most of the social media comments following pleas indicate many people believe his sentence was too lenient.
Dr. Chris Calendine's history
Prior to pleading guilty Monday to two counts of sexual battery, Calendine, 46, had been a pediatrician in Hawkins County for the past 17 years, including the previous year while these charges were looming.
He first came to Rogersville through the Kellogg's Program at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine, where he received his doctorate.
In the 2000s, he founded the ProStrength and Speed program, which was a free physical fitness program for Hawkins County youths based in Rogersville.
Calendine often provided the mandatory physicals required for all student athletes for free and also volunteered as Cherokee High School’s football team physician until December 2016.
That's when he was arrested for public intoxication at a Volunteer High School basketball game and was banned from all county school facilities for two years.
Calendine also made headlines in 2016 when he started a reward fund for a kidnapped Hawkins County child, who was also his patient, by donating $10,000. That fund eventually grew to $40,000.
Promise Medical Group
He opened Promise Medical Group in Rogersville in February 2017.
Promise Medical Group Chief Operating Officer Sherry Ives told the Times News on Monday that Calendine hasn’t been a part of that organization for several months.
“While the events surrounding him are unfortunate, he has not been part of Promise Medical Group for quite some time, and of course, will not be,” Ives said. “We have five very qualified providers who will continue to deliver exceptional care to the people of Hawkins County. Promise Medical is committed to being here for the people of Hawkins County now and for many years to come.”
Ives said Calendine's departure from Promise was "his decisions. Well, it was a collective decision, a business decision, and he was in agreement with that."
Rogersville City School
In May 2017, Calendine represented Promise at a Rogersville City School Board of Education meeting, during which Promise was approved to provide clinic services at the school.
RCS Director Rebecca Isaacs told the Times News that Calendine has had no affiliation with Promise Medical Group for some time and has not provided services to students and staff at the RCS clinic while associated with that practice.
"While RCS had an agreement with Promise Medical Group for clinic services at our school, Dr. Calendine never personally delivered those," Isaac said. "He executed the original agreement on Promise’s behalf, and that was the extent of his involvement here."
More articles about Dr. Calendine:
Carlie's pediatrician puts up $10,000 reward for her safe return
Judge asked to allow testimony of past child sex complaints against Rogersville pediatrician
Pediatrician accused of child sex crimes seeks juvenile records of accusers
Rogersville pediatrician Calendine indicted on sexual battery charges
Dr. Calendine's practice business as usual a day after arrest on child sex charges
Hawkins pediatrician charged with public intoxication at high school basketball game
Calendine removed as Cherokee football team doctor due to P.I. arrest
RCS picks Dr. Calendine's medical group for in-school clinic