Child porn suspect may undergo mental evaluation

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – An elderly former Alabaster doctor who has been charged with allegedly producing child pornography may undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation after his attorney requested the evaluation on his client’s behalf.

On April 24, the attorney for 81-year-old Ruepert Don Bryan requested Bryan undergo a mental evaluation at the state’s Taylor Hardin Secure Mental Health Facility to determine if dementia played any role in his alleged criminal activity.

In late September 2016, a Shelby County grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Bryan, upholding three felony counts of producing child pornography and one felony count of first-degree sexual abuse.

Bryan, who previously worked as an ear, nose and throat doctor in Alabaster, faces up to life in prison if he is convicted on the production of child pornography charges, and faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of the sexual abuse charge.

According to his arrest warrants, Bryan allegedly produced obscene matter of a person under the age of 17 including “breast nudity, sodomy, sexual abuse and other sexual conduct” on Jan. 1, 2002.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2002, Bryan’s arrest warrants allege he produced more obscene matter containing similar content.

In the motion requesting the mental evaluation, Bryan’s attorney wrote “It is crucial to determine the extent of the defendant’s mental illnesses and the effect it would have on his ability to properly defend himself. The defendant is 81 years of age and appears to suffer from dementia.”

“The facts surrounding this case demonstrate behavior that would lead one to believe the defendant has a serious mental illness,” read the motion. “Counsel for the defendant has personally observed behavior that would lead him to believe that the defendant has a serious mental illness.”

On the same day Bryan’s attorney requested the mental evaluation, he also requested, for the third time, a reduced bond for his client.

Circuit Court judges Hewitt Conwill and Daniel Crowson denied two previous requests to lower Bryan’s bond from its current total of $500,000.

A Circuit Court judge is set to rule on the mental evaluation and bond reduction requests during a June 1 hearing at 9 a.m. Bryan will not be transported from the Shelby County Jail to attend the hearing, according to court documents.