A former Billings child psychiatrist who served time in federal prison for possessing child pornography is slowing down his quest for a second chance to practice psychiatry.
Dr. James H. Peak, 51, has withdrawn a petition for reinstatement of his medical license until early next year.
Although he can no longer work with minors, Peak wants to rebuild his practice with adults and had asked the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for reinstatement.
He was hoping for a decision this month, but has formally withdrawn his request.
Peak served just under 10 months in a Seattle federal prison after pleading guilty in August 2011 to possessing child pornography. He had been a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Billings Clinic, the state’s largest hospital, since 1994.
Since his release from prison, Peak has been working to restore not only his medical license but also his reputation and the trust he lost when his double life was exposed.
He is volunteering 20 hours a week at the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center in Billings, where he is helping update policies and procedures. He has no contact with patients.
Peak discussed his desire for a second chance in an August interview with The Billings Gazette. Not everyone believes he deserves redemption.
“I knew some people were upset by the article,” Peak said, adding that that’s when he thought it best to slow things down with the licensing board. “I didn’t want people to think I was trying to rush a deliberative process and I don’t want to put pressure on the licensing board.”
It is not unusual for physicians and dentists whose practices have been jeopardized by sexual misconduct, substance abuse, psychiatric illness or other issues to seek license reinstatement. Many in Montana, including Peak, work with the state Professional Assistance Program. About 90 percent of professionals who work with MPAP return to practice.
“I want my license back because I think I can help people,” Peak said. “I was a good doctor.”