A woman accused of practicing medicine without a license proclaimed her innocence and told 10News she was arrested by the FBI because of a hidden agenda.
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Kathleen Helms, who is being held at Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility on $250,000 bail, said she never pretended to be a doctor.
On Wednesday, Helms pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against her. If convicted, she could serve more than 12 years in prison. A bail review has been set for Monday.
She agreed to speak to 10News reporter Allison Ash Thursday because she said she needs both medical care and money to defend herself on charges she treated patients without a medical license.
"Are you a quack, a charlatan?" Ash asked.
"No ma'am, I am not a quack, I am not a charlatan," answered Helms.
Helms, 57, spoke softly because she said she has Lyme disease and needs treatment that jail officials won't give her. She also questioned the reason for her arrest.
"Anyone who starts to make progress with Lyme, they go in, shut them down, hold them at gunpoint and take everything away, and scare the hell out of them," said Helms.
"Is that what they did to you?" asked Ash.
"Yes ma'am," replied Helms.
"At gunpoint?" asked Ash.
Helms answered, "Yes ma'am."
Helms is charged with 11 felonies related to two patients she diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease -- patients who prosecutors said should have been receiving treatments from real doctors for multiple sclerosis and prostate cancer.
"She was the foremost expert in the field in the country," said alleged victim Richard Rebuffattee.
"So you believed her?" asked Ash.
"Yeah, I believed her," he said. "I drank the Kool-Aid because I actually believed her."
Rebuffattee said he met Helms on an online dating website. By their second date, she drew his blood and told him he had Lyme disease. On her orders, he was soon taking massive doses of vitamins and getting injected with a solvent called DMSO.
"She was hitting me all over the place with needles and blowing up veins, infiltrating them into my skin," Rebuffattee said of a nurse named Jackie who worked with Helms at a clinic in Encinitas.
Rebuffattee said he finally got suspicious and went to see his old doctor. He learned he didn't have Lyme disease, but prostate cancer.
"And I told her and she said, 'Absolutely not.' She actually got quite upset and she said, 'I'm a doctor and I'm giving you orders not to go in, not to believe them, because you do not have cancer,'" said Rebuffattee.
Rebuffattee quickly cut all ties to Helms and reported her to the Medical Board of California. He also thinks the nurse and the lab that tested his blood should also face charges.
Rebuffattee said the ordeal cost him more than $8,000 and nearly cost him his life. Rebuffattee had surgery and the cancer is no longer a threat.
Helms would not comment on Rebuffattee's claims.
As for the case against her, Helms told 10News, "That's not true. I'm innocent."
During her interview with 10News, Helms looked at the camera and asked people in the "Lyme community" to send money for her defense.
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