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Popular doctor attacked in prison

Psychiatrist was to evaluate inmate

By Stewart Bishop and Meredith Goldstein
Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff / January 8, 2010

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An accused white supremacist killer and rapist attacked a nationally known psychiatrist and television personality during a mental health evaluation yesterday, authorities said.

Keith Luke, who is accused of killing two people and shooting and raping another in 2009 in what prosecutors allege was a racially motivated series of attacks, went after Dr. Keith Ablow as he was about to interview Luke at the Plymouth House of Correction yesterday morning, according to a spokesman for the prison, John Birtwell. Ablow is a best-selling author and psychiatrist who is a regular contributor to numerous national talk shows, and he is also on the faculty of New England Medical Center in Boston.

Luke had been taken from his cell to a nearby room used primarily for attorney-client interviews, where Ablow was going to interview him as part of a mental health evaluation in anticipation of his upcoming trial. Within seconds of entering the room, a handcuffed Luke attacked Ablow, Birtwell said.

Ablow, 48, who was hired by Luke’s lawyer to evaluate Luke’s mental health, said Luke attacked him almost immediately. “Before I could start the evaluation, he attacked me,’’ Ablow said.

Correction officers quickly intervened, and Luke, 23, was taken back to his cell.

Birtwell said correction officers were not in the room, but were monitoring through a glass window and responded quickly.

“Fortunately, Ablow was able to subdue Luke,’’ Birtwell said. “It was a quick outburst. I’m not sure it would qualify as a hockey fight.’’

Ablow said he was not hurt.

“I am fine,’’ he said. “We were alone in the room, but the guards were very quick.’’

Luke is charged with raping and shooting one woman and killing her sister and another man, all of Cape Verdean decent, in Brockton in January 2009. After his capture, Luke allegedly told authorities he was “fighting extinction’’ of the white race and had stockpiled ammunition to kill blacks, Hispanics, and Jews.

Luke’s lawyer could not be reached for comment last night.