Wenatchee doctor charged with computer intrusion, witness tampering in ongoing domestic violence case

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WENATCHEE — A Wenatchee physician faces charges of domestic violence and felony counts including witness tampering and computer trespass, after allegedly abusing his spouse and unlawfully using Confluence Health computer systems to access her private medical information.

Dr. Tyler Howard Buckley, 37, was summoned to Chelan County Superior Court Tuesday on a charge of first-degree computer trespass. It’s the third felony charge leveled against the oncologist since his initial arrest in February, when his wife told Wenatchee police he had grabbed her, shoved her, and injured her arms as part of an ongoing pattern of physical abuse.

The latest charge of computer trespass alleges that Buckley used his credentials as a healthcare provider to access his wife’s private medical records through computer systems at Confluence Health, where the couple both worked. Police said Confluence Health administrators reached out in April to the Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, after they became aware of the alleged breach.

Buckley’s attorney Andrew Melton said Tuesday his client would have no comment on the three criminal cases now working their way through court.

Confluence Health public information officer Andrew Canning said Tuesday that Buckley “is no longer employed by the Wenatchee Valley Medical Group. His last day of work providing patient care was April 16th.” In an April 23 court filing, Buckley said he had resigned.

Buckley received his M.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 2013. He gained his Washington physician and surgeon license in May 2019, according to state Department of Health records. He and his wife married that same year.

Buckley joined the oncology staff of Confluence Health in autumn 2019. He worked primarily in the Mares Building of the Wenatchee Valley Hospital and Clinics, with weekly hours at Confluence’s Omak clinic.

Court records show Wenatchee police first investigated Buckley in February, after his wife disclosed instances of abuse to a domestic violence counselor. She said Buckley seized her by the arms and pushed her up against a wall following a verbal argument Feb. 16, and had grabbed and struck her in previous incidents, including punching her in the face in 2017. She alleged that in spring of 2020 Buckley pushed her to the ground and wrenched one of her arms so badly she lost feeling in it, and for a time needed assistance at work because she could not use her arm.

Police took photos of the woman’s injuries during the Feb. 16 report, which showed bruising on the forearms and triceps of both arms. They arrested Buckley at his home Feb. 20. He faces trial June 9 on a count of fourth-degree domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor.

Shortly after his arrest, Buckley’s spouse was granted a protective court order, barring him from approaching or contacting her and keeping him at least 300 feet away from her — “except for when both parties are working at Confluence Health,” where they worked in the same building on the same floor.

Court records show Buckley’s supervisors at Confluence Health grew concerned over his alleged behavior in the workplace, where his spouse reported seeing him “loitering in reception at least 15 times” throughout one day in March, according to a police affidavit. Confluence Health CEO Dr. Jason Lake and fellow executive Dr. Mitch Garrison met with Buckley on March 25, questioning him about a March 22 incident in which security and staff noted Buckley lingering in common areas and hallways that his wife normally used.

Police also say Buckley made a series of texts and a phone call to his spouse April 14, asking her to drop the case and allegedly threatening to disparage her to her employers. He was again arrested April 18 and charged with tampering with a witness, a Class C felony; witness intimidation, a Class B felony; and two counts of violating a no-contact order, a gross misdemeanor. He was freed from jail on $25,000 bond.

Confluence executives grew further alarmed when it appeared Buckley accessed his wife’s personal medical files in the Confluence Health databases, without her permission. Buckley allegedly admitted doing so in an April 20 meeting with Lake, along with Confluence’s human resources director, security director, and HIPAA compliance officer. HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, includes a privacy rule that regulates how personal medical information can be used and disclosed.

Court records show Confluence Health turned over records of the alleged breach to police on May 10, under a search warrant granted by Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera.  

Prosecutors charged Buckley on May 5 with first-degree computer trespass, another Class C felony, with a maximum five-year prison sentence if convicted. He appeared in court Tuesday afternoon in a preliminary hearing, but was not detained.