A longtime Broward gastroenterologist was arrested Tuesday after Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives say he sent “sexual text messages” and nude photos of himself to a teenager.
Stewart Bitman, 64, is facing charges including three counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor and one count of solicitation of a minor.
Bitman faced a judge Wednesday morning and was told he had to surrender his passport, stay in the tri-county area and could not have any contact with the victim, according to Miami Herald news partner CBS4. He was still in Broward’s Main Jail Wednesday night, being held on an $80,0000 bond, records show.
Bitman’s arrest was the result of a joint investigation between BSO’s Internet Crimes Against Children detectives and Coral Springs Police Department .
According to BSO, detectives received information in April that Bitman “sent a number of sexual text messages and nude photos of himself to a 13-year-old child.”
“Detectives believe Bitman knew he was communicating with a minor, and while attempting to solicit victims, he portrayed himself as a teenage boy,” the department said in a news release.
On Tuesday, a search warrant was executed at Bitman’s Parkland home. Bitman, who has been practicing since 1990, was taken into custody and “numerous electronic devices were seized for further forensic analysis,” BSO said.
Detectives are working to identify other victims Bitman may have communicated with, BSO said.
Bitman has an office at 3001 Coral Hills Drive, Suite 250, in Coral Springs. He belongs to the medical group Gastro Health, according to its website.
In a statement from Gastro Health obtained by CBS4, the group said: “Dr. Bitman was terminated from our practice after we were informed of his arrest and related criminal charges. These charges were related to personal conduct that took place in his personal life. We are deeply troubled to hear of the charges and are concerned for the well-being of the minors who are affected.”
His medical license with the state shows he has had no disciplinary actions. The record shows he has privileges at Coral Springs Medical Center and Northwest Medical Center.
“Dr. Bitman is not employed by our system,” said Jennifer Smith, associate vice president, corporate communications for Broward Health. “We have taken immediate action to remove all privileges with our system. Our heart goes out to all those affected.”
Bitman’s arrest comes about two weeks after a Broward pediatrician was arrested. Dr. Michael Mizrachy, 49, was charged with two counts of possession of sexual performance by a child and using a computer to solicit, lure or seduce a child to commit an illegal act.
BSO detectives are asking anyone with information regarding Bitman or who has a child who may have been a victim of Bitman’s to call Det. Jennifer Montgomery at 954-888-5290 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).