Maryland oral surgeon sentenced to 45 years in prison for girlfriend’s death after providing drugs from his office

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (AP) — A Maryland oral surgeon, Dr. James Michael Ryan, has been sentenced to 45 years in prison after being found guilty in the death of his girlfriend, Sarah Harris.

Harris died of an overdose on January 26, 2022, with the court decision handed down on Wednesday in Rockville, Maryland. The 50-year-old dentist was found guilty of providing drugs from his office to Harris, resulting in her untimely death. State Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. McCally ordered the severe sentence, underscoring Dr. Ryan’s role in providing drugs to Harris, which ultimately led to her death.

Prosecutors focused on Dr. Ryan’s extensive knowledge of anesthesia, arguing that his understanding of the dangers of the drugs meant he was fully aware of the risks they posed to Harris. Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Harrison stated that every time Dr. Ryan gave Harris these drugs, a little bit of her died. Dr. Ryan was found guilty on several charges, including second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, and drug possession and distribution.

Court records revealed that Harris was found unresponsive on Dr. Ryan’s couch, surrounded by hypodermic needles and bottles of controlled substances. Despite efforts from the Montgomery County Fire Rescue, she tragically passed away.

Dr. Ryan and Harris first met in 2020, when she visited Dr. Ryan’s practice for a dental procedure. Their relationship evolved into a romantic one, and she eventually started working for him as a surgical technician. Dr. Ryan offered to provide sedatives to Harris to help with her anxiety, and their relationship continued to deepen, culminating in them living together.

This tragic case serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of drug abuse and the severe consequences that can result. The legal consequences faced by Dr. Ryan reflect the gravity of the situation and the responsibility of healthcare professionals to prioritize the well-being and safety of their patients.