MEDFORD, Ore. — The former Jackson County psychiatrist who vandalized mountain biking trails in the Ashland watershed says he regrets his actions and is moving forward with a new psychiatry practice.
Jackson Tyler Dempsey, 58, was charged in August 2012 with fourth-degree assault and two counts of recklessly endangering another person after he admitted to stringing nylon cord and laying nails and vegetation across trails in the Ashland watershed in summer 2012.
Dempsey told a Forest Service arresting officer that he vandalized the trails because he “did not like mountain bikers,” according to a Forest Service report.
Dempsey pleaded no contest to his charges in May 2013 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which he served as house arrest. He was ordered to pay $2,400 in restitution and serve two years of probation, which includes staying off the trails in the Ashland watershed.
Dempsey declined to comment today on what his intentions were while he was in the watershed, but said he regretted his actions.
“I’m very regretful of what I put people through. It was quite difficult and very stressful for me and my family,” said Dempsey. “I think I’ll leave it at that — that it was never my intention to harm anyone.”
Dempsey’s wife, Christina Bagi, said he has paid a high price for his actions. “He’s a good person that made a mistake. He tried to own up to that mistake as soon as he could. He took responsibility and he’s paid a really high price,” she said.
Bagi said Dempsey’s intentions were to have mountain bikers slow down when sharing trails with hikers.
“He wanted (mountain bikers) to have to deal with an impediment, but he never wanted to hurt anybody. He was really, truly heartsick to realize that anyone could get hurt or did get hurt.”
Part of the restitution Dempsey was ordered to pay went to former Ashland resident Jordan Daniels, who said he struck a nylon cord placed across a trail at neck level during a ride down an unauthorized watershed trail in summer 2012. Daniels was wearing a protective neck brace and didn’t require medical attention, but was given restitution because his bike frame was destroyed when it hit a tree, he said.
The Oregon Medical Board reviewed Dempsey’s case at its meeting in fall 2013, and while it called his actions “dishonorable” and “detrimental to the community,” the board chose not to suspend or revoke Dempsey’s medical license.
A former psychiatrist for Jackson County Mental Health, Dempsey left his employment there in October 2012, though county officials declined to elaborate on the circumstances.
Dempsey said he picked up work in Grants Pass running his own practice, Practical Psychology, a few months ago.
“I think I’ve been appropriately punished and I’m glad to be working again,” Dempsey said.
Bagi said Dempsey genuinely cares for his patients and is thankful to be practicing again.
“He really has so much compassion and care for his patients,” said Bagi. “He’s really grateful that he’s able to continue to work and build a practice.”