AUSTIN – A Fort Worth doctor twice honored by the Texas House of Representatives as the "doctor of the day" is a registered sex offender convicted of an illicit relationship with a 17-year-old.
Dr. Nilon Tallant, 75, was introduced by lawmakers at the Capitol in 2006 and again in January of this year's legislative session, even though one legislator said he'd warned others about the physician's past sex offense after his first appearance .
"I don't think anybody that's a convicted sex offender should have a medical license in Texas. Period," said Republican Rep. Phil King, who introduced Tallant in the House chamber in April 2006. Tallant now lives in King's district, but King said he doesn't know Tallant well.
King said he found out "through the grapevine" after Tallant's first appearance in the House chamber that the doctor was a sex offender. He said he passed that information on to the House speaker's office and the medical association that screens doctors for the duty.
Tallant used to practice medicine in the San Marcos area, which is where the conviction occurred. He did not answer a call placed by The Associated Press to his home phone listing.
Texas Medical Board records state that in late 1995 Tallant began "an improper sexual relationship" with a female patient for whom he had once prescribed medication and he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sexual performance by a child. He was placed on probation for 10 years and fined $1,000, according to board records.
His medical license was revoked, but was reinstated in 2001, records show.
The Texas Academy of Family Physicians screens doctors for the volunteer doctor of the day program. The physicians are available at the Capitol to assist legislators, their staff members and the public with medical needs.
Academy spokesman Tom Banning says the doctor of the day averages 30 to 35 patient visits at the Capitol.
The academy issued a statement Friday saying it regrets that Tallant was selected as a participating doctor and that its executive director cannot recall a similar situation involving the program.
"Like our patients, we rely on information at the medical board to help determine eligibility of physicians to participate in the Physician of the Day program. Unfortunately it is now clear there are holes in the information provided on the Texas Medical Board Web site," the statement said.
Tallant was again doctor of the day this year and was introduced by Rep. Leo Berman, a Tyler Republican, because King wasn't available, Berman said.
"I introduced the doctor — never seen him before in my life," Berman recalled. "The speaker yelled down, 'Leo, could you introduce the doctor of the day so we can get started?' "
Berman said it's "horrendous" that Tallant was allowed to be the doctor for the day and that he believes there should be tougher screening of the doctors and of clergy members who appear to present the prayer each day at the Legislature.