Fifteen months after he was indicted, Northern Virginia abortionist Dr. Chris Simopoulos is still being sought by the FBI on charges he performed an illegal abortion and did abortion procedures on women who were not pregnant at a clinic he owned in Norfolk.
"I presume he's still in Greece," said Norfolk lawyer Chris Christie, who was set to defend Simopoulos on the criminal allegations last year until the Greek-born physician disappeared shortly before the trial was scheduled.
Norfolk police detective George Webb said there was a flurry of interest in the doctor during the summer after a Tidewater television station reported that Simopoulos had been arrested in Greece. The report was false, Webb said.
Simopoulos, 48, whose Falls Church clinic had been a target of antiabortion protesters in the late 1970s, was convicted in 1980 in Fairfax County Circuit Court of performing a second-trimester abortion in his clinic instead of a hospital, as Virginia law required. He was sentenced to two years in prison, with all but 20 days suspended. An appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Virginia medical authorities revoked his license temporarily but restored it on the condition that he perform no abortions for two years.
Simopoulos was arrested by Norfolk authorities in July 1984 after performing an allegedly illegal abortion on a 28-year-old woman. The arrest followed an investigation by the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and the National Organization for Women, who alleged that Simopoulos had told some women they were pregnant when they were not.
His arrest came as he prepared to perform an abortion procedure on an undercover policewoman who was not pregnant, police charged.
Three years ago, while his Supreme Court appeal was pending, Simopoulos said in an interview that he had returned briefly to the Macedonian Mountains in Greece where he was born "to gain some perspective." He thought about resettling in Greece, he added, but rejected the idea because "I'm not a quitter."
Even now, said detective Webb, Norfolk police wonder if the United States has lost its allure for Simopoulos. "We think," said Webb, "he might try to sneak in for Christmas."