With her blond hair neatly swept back and kept in place with a pearl headband that matches her long pearl necklace, it’s hard to imagine the woman waiting in a Monterey courtroom on Dec. 19 is the same woman who two and a half years ago slipped a three-and-a-half-foot-long ball python and three rats through the bedroom window of her estranged husband’s home.
And yet there sits Dr. Mary Kay Brewster, who was convicted of two felonies in 2015 stemming in part from the bizarre revenge plot. She’s directly across from the witness stand where her husband, Dr. Chris Clevenger, testifies in their ongoing divorce trial. Outside of the courtroom she must stay at least 100 yards away from Clevenger, his home, his workplace and his car, as ordered in her felony sentencing.
Clevenger tells Monterey County Superior Court Judge Heidi Whilden he believes his orthopedic practice has been hurt financially by the negative publicity surrounding the case. And he doesn’t give an inch when Brewster’s divorce attorney, Stephen Grant, asked about whether Brewster should receive spousal support for earning less than he does.
“Dr. Brewster is very capable of making money to pay her expenses,” Clevenger says.
That might not be quite true. Just 10 days earlier, Brewster went to Oakland to fight to keep practicing medicine, in the face of a petition by the California Medical Board to revoke it for “unprofessional conduct.” A settlement agreement on Dec. 9 is expected to allow her to keep the license on a probationary status. (The details of the settlement will not be made public until the board signs off on the agreement.)
“It was unfortunate circumstances from a toxic divorce.”
Keeping her license looks like a win, but Brewster says she’s not celebrating, because this will all remain on the public record “for the rest of my life.”
Once an OB-GYN at Community Medical Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, Brewster gave up practicing obstetrics in 2014, says Michael A. Firestone, her San Mateo-based attorney who specializes in medical license defense. She continues to practice gynecology, and now also oversees a weight-loss clinic.
According to Firestone, Brewster expects to add non-invasive transdermal lasers used for targeted weight loss into her practice.
Although she can keep her license, being on probation may make it difficult to get coverage from some insurers. Some doctors who go on probation with the Medical Board are deleted from the lists patients use to find doctors, Firestone says. Blue Shield, he adds, has a strict rule that any doctor on probation is not included on its doctor lists, with no way to appeal. (Blue Shield representatives did not respond to requests for comment by the Weekly’s deadline.)
But Firestone is optimistic about her ability to continue practicing: “If there is not a patient care issue, they will usually let you continue,” he says. “None of the allegations involved any patient care questions. It was unfortunate circumstances from a toxic divorce.”
For now Brewster has other issues to contend with, like dividing her and Clevenger’s estate, and repairing cracked tile in the hallway and replacing windows on the French doors before putting their home on the market.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: The medical board hearing took place in Oakland, not Sacramento, as previously reported.